The Race for Red

The Absa African Jersey competition, for teams where both riders hold racing licences from African countries, is always one of the most fascinating sub-plots to the Absa Cape Epic. It is likely to hold true in 2024 too, where both the men’s and women’s races are sure to see exciting battles, not just for the title, but also for the podium places. 

In recent years a competition which was initially dominated by what is now the PYGA Euro Steel team – with Matthys Beukes alongside various partners, primarily Philip Buys – has become harder to predict. Though PYGA Euro Steel are on a remarkable streak of winning every second edition dating back to 2018. That rhythm was set when Matt Beers and Alan Hatherly won the competition in 2019, following Beukes’ victory the year before alongside Julian Jessop.

The October Epic, in 2021, saw Pieter du Toit step up alongside Buys in a coming-of-age performance. The following year Du Toit backed up that ride winning with Marco Joubert. In 2023 Buys drew level with Beukes on five competition victories, by partnering Namibian Alex Miller to Absa African success.

2023 was the year of the Namibians, as Miller and Vera Looser became the first non-South African red jersey winners. Looser and Kim le Court had been wearing the jerseys on loan, from the overall race leaders Candice Lill and Amy Wakefield since Stage 1, until they seized both the orange and red jerseys in a masterful performance in the pouring rain on Stage 6. Mauritanian, le Court added a third non-South African to last year’s Absa African final podium.

The history of the Women’s Absa African Jersey is not as deep as that of the men’s. The sub-competition was only instituted in 2018, and has thus seen just five editions. Lill has won 60% of the titles in that short time, claiming victory alongside Wakefield, in 2018, and Mariske Strauss, in 2021 and 2022. Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph were the 2019 winners and Hill is favourite once more for 2024.


Hill is targeting the red jersey race – which would be fitting for her sponsor, Absa. In Absa Cape Epic debutant Hayley Smith, she has a partner capable of challenging for the Absa African Jerseys, though the battle may well come down to who is the stronger of Smith and Efficient Infiniti Insure’s Stephanie Wohlters. Wohlters will have her work cut-out for her, as she will not only be focusing on racing the #SheUntamed team but will also need to rein in the exuberant Danielle Strydom.

Hot off her best ever season, and having started 2024 well, Strydom will have to exercise more caution than she is naturally disposed to in order finish the race strongly. If she overdoes it early on not only will the #SheUntamed team benefit later, but a group of other teams stand to gain too. These teams will be hunting an Absa African Jersey podium while also engaged in their own race-within-a-race for the unofficial PedalForGood jersey. This prize was created by the Pedal Project, an official Absa Cape Epic charity, to celebrate the women who maintain careers and balance family commitments with their racing and training.

Tarryn Povey and Kylie Hanekom, Juanita Mackenzie and Mandi Augustyn, Nicola Freitas and Robyn Williams, Jessica Wilkinson and Rebecca van Huyssteen, as well as Ricci-Lee Brookstone and Sanchia Malan will compete across both the official Absa African and unofficial PedalForGood competitions.

The Absa African Jersey Women’s race is more likely to split into two battles. The fight for first and the red jerseys, between the #SheUntamed and Efficient Infiniti Insure teams, and the contest for third in the competition. Both of those are sure to create excitement throughout the race.

All-African Men

As is the men’s Absa African competition. Historically a sixth-place finish, on the overall general classification, has been good enough to win the red jerseys. Thus, the top all-African team is likely to feature in the top ten overall. Imbuko Pro Cycling A’s, Joubert and Wessel Botha are the team who would, going into the race, be most disappointed with ‘just’ a top ten result. Their aspirations are for a top five overall and the Burry Stander Memorial Trophy should accompany a performance of that magnitude.

They will have fierce competition from PYGA Euro Steel’s Buys and Du Toit, of course. Though the team’s own rhythm suggests that they might not be riding across the final finish line in red this year. Tristan Nortje, now with Honeycomb Pro Cycling is unencumbered by any such history and has a point to prove after two frustrating Absa Cape Epic outings. He and Marc Pritzen will be eager to showcase what they achieve together.

Toyota Specialized will be a team to keep an eye on too, especially as Miller is one of the riders of the South African early season. The Namibian and Johan van Zyl will have dual roles, supporting Beers and Howard Grotts as well as chasing their own Absa African success. Insect Science 1 and 2, Valley Electrical Titan Racing, Imbuko Pro Cycling B, Fuel X, Fairtree DP Cannondale, Pump for Peace, PYGA Euro Steel 2 and Trek SA will also feature in the broader battle.

Combinations of interest among those squads are The Bike Shop Plett and Valley Electrical Titan Racing. Both teams feature a member of the 2018 Absa African Jersey winning team: Jessop and Beukes. Jessop returns to elite racing having taken time away from the bike to finish his accounting articles, while Beukes comes out of retirement to show that he remains a force to be reckoned with. Rogan Smart will be lining-up alongside Jessop, while Rossouw Bekker has the honour of partnering Beukes – who has yet to make the switch to mountain bike pedals this year, having raced the early season events with road shoes and pedals!

Previous Absa African Winners