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The towns, regions, locations and race villages of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic
In 2023 the Absa Cape Epic features race villages in Meerendal Wine Estate, Hermanus, Oak Valley Estate, Lourensford Wine Estate and, of course, Val de Vie Estate. Starting outside Cape Town the route transfers east before racing west and finally northwest in a scenic yet limit-testing arc through the Western Cape.
Every year the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race utilises different Western Cape towns as a base from which to stage the routes into the region’s mountains, valleys, and windswept plains. In 2023 five venues will host the eight stages. Meerendal Wine Estate, Hermanus, Oak Valley Estate, Lourensford Wine Estate and Val de Vie Estate are the venues for the 19th edition of the Absa Cape Epic.
Meerendal WINE ESTATE, Durbanville
Previous Visits: 8
Last Year Visited: 2017
Location: Vissershok Road, Durbanville, Cape Town, 7550
Located to the north of the Cape Town city centre, on the outskirts of Durbanville, Meerendal Wine Estate is a 300-year-old wine estate which has been owned by the Coertze family since 2004. As great supporters of mountain biking, the farm’s emblem has adorned the jerseys of Absa Cape Epic winners, including Christoph Sauser and Esther Suss, and as a member of the Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club the farm’s 30 kilometres of marked routes link up with the greater 185-kilometre-long trail network. On Meerendal Wine Estate itself mountain bikers will find icons of the sport like Stairway to Heaven, the Dorstberg Downhill and the Burry Stander Trail.
Off the bike visitors can indulge in a post-race pizza and beer at Carlucci’s, a burger at Bossa Winelands, or platter at the Crown Restaurant. The estate is also open for wine tastings and features a boutique hotel for those looking to stay in luxury before the big race.
In 2023, Meerendal Wine Estate serves as the starting point of the 19th Absa Cape Epic. Last visited by the event in 2017, the trails of Meerendal Wine Estate and the greater Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club network are sure to set a scorching scene complete with intense racing, dusty, limit-testing trails, cheering spectators, and the handing over of the first Ciovita leader jerseys for the 2023 event.
On Meerendal Wine Estate itself mountain bikers will find icons of the sport like Stairway to Heaven, the Dorstberg Downhill and the Burry Stander Trail.
Mountain bike heaven on the vast trail network of Meerendal Wine Estate and surrounding farms
Meerendal Wine Estate is renowned for its exceptional wines
Smooth trails and beautiful views of the Durbanville countryside.
The beautiful manor and surrounding buildings offer the perfect setting for the Meerendal Wine Estate trailhead
Hermanus High School, Hermanus
Previous Visits: 4
Last Year Visited: 2019
Location: Moffat Street, Hermanus, 7200
Situated on the southern coast of South Africa Hermanus is famed for its land-based whale watching. The early fishing village grew in the nineteenth century when it became popular as a holiday destination. 120 years later it remains a popular getaway, though the town has also grown into a substantial urban centre too.
Located in the nook of the Kleinrivier Mountains, the Hermanus High School sports grounds offer the Absa Cape Epic easy access to the region’s growing network of trails. To the northwest lies the Hemel en Aarde Valley, an area synonymous with award winning Pinot Noir and world class mountain biking.
To the east lies Stanford, wine estates and wheat fields. In 2023 the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race makes its first visit to these trails since the high-speed fly through on the stage between Bredasdorp and Hermanus in 2008.
Stages 1 and 2 of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic maximise the region’s trail offering by traversing historic favourites of the event, like the Hemel en Aarde valley, and scouting out brand new trails that are sure to push even the most perfectly honed teams to their absolute limits.
Stage 3 of the event leaves Hermanus behind as it heads inland via the first transition stage of the 2023 race: its target – Oak Valley Estate.
The burgeoning town of Hermanus is world renowned for whale spotting
Oak Valley ESTATE, Elgin
Previous Visits: 7
Last Year Visited: 2019
Location: 127 Oak Ave, Grabouw,7180
Oak Valley Estate is undoubtedly among the most popular Absa Cape Epic race villages. Its sprawling lawns and superb trails make it both logistically favourable and incredible for riding.
The estate was founded in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen, who could include apple farming pioneer among his impressive list of credentials. Along with apples the property is now renowned for pears, its greenhouse cut flowers, and for the production of its outstanding cool climate wines. Mountain bikers know it for its singletracks and for hosting some of the country’s best loved events. In 2023 the race spends two nights in Oak Valley Estate, taking in the trials of Paul Cluver and the rest of the Elgin Valley during the stay.
Besides mountain biking, fruit, flowers, and wine, Oak Valley Estate's Melting Pot restaurant is well worth a visit. Headed up by Chef John van Zyl it features a culinary style of seasonal dishes presented on contemporary small plates, made for sharing. The perfect place to iron out Absa Cape Epic team tactics perhaps?
The region’s most imposing climb, Groenlandberg, also makes its return to the route of the 19th edition. In 2022 the race skirted across the green mountain’s foothills, this year the teams will not be as fortunate as the route climbs the mountain almost from the gate of Stage 5 and sets the scene for a truly demanding Queen Stage from Oak Valley Estate to Lourensford Wine Estate.
Mountain bikers know it for its singletracks and for hosting some of the country’s best loved events.
The cool climate of the Elgin valley ensure Oak Valley Estate wines are of the finest quality
A purpose built network of mountain bike trails crisscross the Oak Valley Estate
Lourensford WINE ESTATE, Somerset West
Previous Visits: 9
Last Year Visited: 2022
Location: Lourensford Road, Somerset West, 7130
Lourensford Wine Estate Cellar produces world class boutique wines and is one of the world most beautiful wine estates
2022 reintroduced Lourensford Wine Estate to the Absa Cape Epic after an eight-year hiatus. The visit confirmed what many had long known, it is the perfect venue for a mountain bike race.
In 2023 the race spends two nights on the 320-year-old estate and features a first for the Absa Cape Epic: a stage which never crosses out of the vast farm’s boundaries as the route takes in virtually every trail on offer and showcases a day that will go down in the event’s history books.
Mountain biking is but a small part of what makes the farm so successful; fine wines, immaculate fruit and hand-picked proteas all emanate from the property. Alongside the winery, Lourensford Wine Estate hosts a coffee roastery and several restaurants, an art gallery and a market. Its location, effectively within Somerset West, means accommodation options abound beyond the race village, which is seldom the case in the smaller towns the Absa Cape Epic visits.
Nestled on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains, Lourensford Wine Estate once again welcomes riders to its exceptional trails
Val de Vie ESTATE, Paarl
Previous Visits: 5
Last Year Visited: 2022
Location: Val de Vie Estate, Paarl, 7646
In 2023, for the sixth time, the Valley of Life will host the Absa Cape Epic Grand Finale. All roads, the saying goes, lead to Rome. In the Untamed, all trails lead to Val de Vie Estate.
Africa’s premier lifestyle estate, which was initially founded as a wine farm in 1783 began its evolution into a residential, lifestyle and wellness estate in 2001. Measuring 917 hectares in size, Val de Vie Estate hosts not only polo competitions and mountain bike races, but boasts an exceptional gym, 64 stables and a range of other sports facilities: including 40 kilometres of mountain biking trails.
After one of the most demanding final stages in recent history, teams will embark on a mini tour de Val de Vie as they wind their way to the Polo Fields and the final finish line, while supporters will be treated to mountain biking entertainment at its finest. VIP supporter packages provide canapés, Méthode Cap Classique and the perfect vantage point from which to watch the final sprint for the line. While on the lawns, food stalls and chill zones ensure that everyone enjoys the closing moments of the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race.
Exclusive and exceptional. Val de Vie Estate offers a myriad of activities on this premier lifestyle estate
Getting to know Lourensford Wine Estate
• 1 200 of Lourensford Wine Estate’s 4 000 hectares are covered with indigenous Winelands Shale Fynbos and Boland Granite Fynbos.
• Cape Leopards roam freely within Lourensford Wine Estate’s borders.
• Lourensford Wine Estate generates 2 800kWh per day through their solar power plants.
• Lourensford Wine Estate has hosted the Absa Cape Epic eight times; last in 2014.
• Last Absa Cape Epic Men’s category winners crowned at Lourensford Wine Estate: Robert Mennen and Kristian Hynek, Topeak-Ergon Racing
• Last Absa Cape Epic Women’s category winners crowned at Lourensford Wine Estate: Ariane Lüthi and Annika Langvad, RECM2
• Lourensford Wine Estate has recently opened an MTB Skills park that is open to the general public