White Knights: Amateur Racers

Braving the Untamed

Introduced for the 2023 Absa Cape Epic the White Jersey competition gives men’s and women’s teams, where at least one rider is under the age of 40, the chance to compete for age-category glory. In 2024 these are the teams to watch…

The Amateur Category, as a new introduction to the Absa Cape Epic, may still be finding its feet but it already has a couple of celebrated winners. In 2023 former World Tour road professionals Mitch Docker and Ian Boswell where the inaugural Amateur Men’s Champions, while Exxaro Jersey winners, Refilwe Mogorosi and Omphile Motaung doubled up by adding the Amateur Women’s crown to their haul too. For 2024 the Exxaro Jersey men’s favourites, Kusaselihle Ngidi and Damon Terblanche (read a profile on Terblanche from Chapter 2 here) could well be the team to watch.

The Fairtree DPworld Cannondale squad already notched up an Amateur and Exxaro double at the 2023 Wines2Whales and will be looking to do the same at the 2024 Absa Cape Epic. They will face stern competition from Latvian Wannabe Pro Cycling’s Lauris Purnins and Oskars Muiznieks. Purnins was the Latvian XCO Champion way back in 2009 and more recently has podiumed in the country’s XCM National Championships. Muiznieks has an even more formidable record, having won the Latvian XCM title on four occasions since 2018, with a second place in the race added for good measure too. Both are accomplished ski racers too, with Muiznieks having represented his country in biathlon [the skiing and shooting kind, rather than the running and swimming sort] at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

South African cycling fans will be pleased to see that Christiaan Janse van Rensburg is back at the Absa Cape Epic. True to form, one of the nicest guys in cycling will be racing for charity alongside Du Toit van den Bergh for team Honeycomb Rdx. They will have to avoid getting distracted by the antics of Mark van Zyl and Ian Pienaar however. With Pienaar’s wife, Kim le Court, racing in Europe he and the wild man from Botswana will be fitter than ever. Nobody in the race will have more fun than the Bloodline pair, but very few will be faster than them either. An Amateur Category podium and hijinks at prize giving could be a highlight of the race for everyone if Van Zyl and Pienaar make a good fist of it.

Project 74 x FOX’s Kenny Tsuda and Eric Fischer appear to be taking a more conservative approach to the race. The pair are industry insiders, with Tsuda working for Specialized Bicycles in the US, while Fischer is an Applications Engineer at FOX. Their methodical and dedicated preparation should yield dividends, though as both are newcomers to racing in South Africa and in the Epic Series they have a lot to learn during the race too.

In the Amateur Women’s competition Kirsten Landman’s Absa Cape Epic racing debut will be fascinating to watch. The Dakar 2020 and 2023 Malle Moto finisher (the entirely self-supported category) and 2023 Absa Cape Epic lead biker will be racing rather than checking trails this year. Landman will have the experience of six-time finisher Reinette Geldenhuis to guide her through the new experience; though she is arguably needs no guidance when taking part in a full-service stage race where fixing one’s bicycle until 03:00 before the next stage is not a daily reality.

Accomplished road racer Ricci-Lee Brookstone continues her off-road adventure at the Absa Cape Epic this year and with Sanchia Malan alongside her, for She Untamed 22, could well win the Amateur Women’s competition. The pair are, on paper, the strongest team in the category. Though they will face competition from Zintle Gantsho and Fikile Jiyane, of team Gunshot-Fiksie, who like Brookstone and Malan are racing as part of the Absa Pride.

The Exxaro Jersey teams – like Fairtree DPWorld Cannondale’s Yomelela Mfazwe and Ongezo Mini, and Khaltsha Cycling Academy’s Khanya Yenani and Sinokuhle Magungxu – could also challenge for the white jerseys. In 2023 the competition’s early dominant team faltered and eventually withdrew from the race, which allowed Mogorosi and Motaung to inherit that category lead too. A consistent ride through the 2024 race could yield a similar result for an unheralded Amateur Women’s team.