All four seasons in one day as the Absa Cape Epic returns
‘Hoerikwaggo’ for ‘mountain in the sea’ was how Table Mountain was originally known by the indigenous people of the Cape. The iconic landmark could, however, easily have been called mountain of the rain on Sunday 17 October as it played host to a unique Absa Cape Epic start. An October start. Complete with rain.
Then again, it just wouldn’t be a fitting curtain raiser to The Race That Measures All if it was, well, easy. The highlight - if perhaps not so much for the riders as for the viewers from all over the world following the action on the Live Broadcast, was the Land Rover Technical Terrain.
The infamous step-down mineshaft descent that is Plum Pudding was the first challenge of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. Now, a traditional Plum Pudding recipe calls for cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and orange zest. The most spice after Sunday’s Absa Cape Epic curtain raiser on the slopes of Table Mountain came in the banter at the finish line. ‘How was your pudding?’
Precipitous and dusty on the best of days, on a day that saw four seasons in the space of a few hours (and that on the back of two days’ worth rain) the surface was a recipe for thrills and spills. Many riders chose to walk it, opting not to risk ruining the first Absa Cape Epic in 938 days. The dual track downhill forced the hand of many into choosing the right line.
“The first five step-downs we were able to get down quite nicely and then it just deteriorated,” Travis said, adding how stoked he was to have been able to get on the trails early without too many riders having gone through.”
Many riders chose to walk it, opting not to risk ruining the first Absa Cape Epic in 938 days.
In prime conditions it takes an average rider around a minute to complete, it took Jordan Sarrou and Matt Beers of Team NinetyOne-songo-Specialized a lot less than that on their way to finishing in a time of 00:43:24.2 and claiming the first yellow leader jersey of the unique event.
“It’s a great feeling to get the win,” said Beers. “I’ve been visualising it ever since I got a taste for this a few years back. Jordan was just a beast on the climbs, so I let him set the pace and I just hung on for dear life.”
As did Sina Frei and Laura Stigger of NinetyOne-songo-Specialized, who showcased their XCO prowess by making short work of all the technical sections to cruise into the women’s orange leader jerseys. Mud-splattered by the finish, the pair were delighted with their efforts. “It was really tough out there today thanks to the weather, but we are used to those conditions from some of our recent XCO rides, so we handled it well,” said Stigger.
Max Menzies and Fernell ‘Fykz’ Regue relished the challenge on their single speeds, with the simplicity of a rigid fork and no derailleurs to clog in the treacherous mud. “I really enjoyed the first stage, I was very excited this morning,” said 21-year-old Fykz. “ It was slippery, I nearly crashed on the one bridge, but I just follow Max, he is so experienced and I trust him.”