20 Years
of Untamed

Looking back at the history of the Absa Cape Epic; the bikes, the riders and the results which made the event the pinnacle of the Epic Series and the world’s most famous mountain bike race. 


The first edition, point-to-point from Knysna to Spier Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch, taking in 788 kilometres with 17 380 metres of climbing.

Men: Mannie Heymans & Karl Platt (Focus/Rocky Mountain)
Women: Hanlie Booyens & Sharon Laws (Yellow Jacket)


The third edition was the second longest in the race’s history, with 940 kilometres of racing and 16 605 metres of climbing. Like the 2004 and 2005 events it started in Knysna and finished at Spier.

Men: Christoph Sauser & Silvio Bundi (Specialized)
Women: Sabine Grona & Kerstin Brachtendorf (adidas-Fiat-Rotwild)


The final point-to-point route, and the only edition to feature nine days of racing. The 966 kilometre course featured the shortest and longest ever stages, the 17 kilometre Pezula Prologue and the 146 kilometre stage from Swellendam to Bredasdorp.

Men: Roel Paulissen & Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale Vredestein)
Women: Pia Sundstedt & Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain)

2011 & 2012

After three years of misfortune Burry Stander became the first South African man to win the Absa Cape Epic in 2011. He and his 36ONE songo Specialized teammate, Christoph Sauser doubled up in 2012. The 2011 race measured 708 kilometres in length, while the following year the course was 775 kilometre long, and featured 21.03 metres of climbing per kilometre. Sally Bigham became the first back-to-back winner in the women’s race, tasting success with Karien van Jaarsveld and then Esther Süss.

Men: Christoph Sauser & Burry Stander (36ONE songo Specialized)
Women: (2011) Sally Bigham & Karien van Jaarsveld (USN)
(2012) Sally Bigham & Esther Süss (Wheels4Life)


Victories with Silvio Bundi, Burry Stander (2) and Jaroslav Kulhavý (2) saw Christoph Sauser become the first five-time winner of the Absa Cape Epic in 2015. The Swiss star was joined on five titles the following year by his long-time rival, Karl Platt. While Annika Langvad became five-time champion in 2019. The route was 739 kilometres long, with 16 000 metres of climbing, and boasted the first Table Mountain Prologue, with the University of Cape Town hosting the opening day’s racing.

Men: Christoph Sauser & Jaroslav Kulhavý (Investec-songo-Specialized)
 Women: Ariane Lüthi & Annika Langvad (RECM Specialized)


The October Epic. The 2020 Absa Cape Epic was cancelled on the Friday evening before the race was due to start on the Sunday, due to the Covid pandemic. What would have been the seventeenth edition of the race took place eighteen months after it had originally been planned to start. Matt Beers joined Burry Stander in the South African winner’s club after a strong performance across the 647-kilometre-long course, with 15 550 metres of climbing, alongside Jordan Sarrou.

Men: Matthew Beers & Jordan Sarrou (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized)
Women: Sina Frei & Laura Stigger (NinetyOne songo Specialized)


The nineteenth Absa Cape Epic had a lot to live up to. The 2022 race had seen Speed Company Racing seize victory on the final stage, having never held the leaders’ jerseys during the preceding week. If anything, 2023 exceeded the previous years’ drama, the UCI men’s and women’s race leads each changed three times. Amy Wakefield suffered a punctured arm and a punctured tyre. While Lukas Baum and Georg Egger’s changes of victory disintegrated along with a shattered rear derailleur. Matt Beers and Chris Blevins seized upon Orbea-Leatt-Speed Company’s misfortune. Wakefield and Candice Lill’s loss was Kim le Court and Vera Looser’s gain.

Men: Matthew Beers & Christopher Blevins (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne)
Women: Kim le Court & Vera Looser (Efficient Infiniti Insure)