Historic and storied, the town of Stellenbosch is not only the centre of the Cape Winelands but is also the epicentre of mountain biking in the Western Cape. Only Lourensford and Grabouw have hosted the Absa Cape Epic on more occasions, but the riding options still abound around the city of oaks.

Students and international tourists stroll the streets of Stellenbosch, while cyclists – both local and visiting – roll along the roads and trails. It is unquestionably one of the country’s must-visit destinations, alongside the Mother City and Kruger National Park. Famed for wine, restaurants, its university and since before the first Mountain Bike World Cup on the African continent its mountain bike trails.

Mountain biking was already well established in Stellenbosch when the town hosted its first UCI World Cup events in 1997 and 1998. A twenty-year hiatus allowed Pietermaritzburg to gain international prominence as the elite South African MTB destination until the Absa Cape Epic brought XCO home to Stellenbosch in 2018. Though it has not been viable to continue to host the world’s best cross-country racers the town has continued to welcome stage racers to Jonkershoek, Banhoek, the Simonsberg and Stellenbosch Mountain over the last six years.

2024 marks the town’s eighth hosting of the Absa Cape Epic and will once again showcase why it is a preferred summer training base for the likes of Nino Schurter, Jasper Stuyven and even an IRONMAN winning triathlete or two. Off the bike relaxation starts with wine tasting and fine dining, but can easily expand to include hiking, trips to the beach, and museum or art gallery browsing. Active recovery for athletes is also readily facilitated in Stellenbosch with a world-class Sport Science department at Stellenbosch University, numerous excellent sports massage therapists and physiotherapists and the recovery facilities of the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport.

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Route Director's Tip

Straight away there’s the longest climb and the longest descent of the day. Then the fun stuff starts. We linked up the very best around Meerendal so it’s worth really savouring these trails and enjoying the moment – the time you’ll make up by racing full gas has minimal rewards compared to the rest of the week.