DRAMATIC NEW ABSA CAPE EPIC ROUTE TO GO THROUGH AREAS PREVIOUSLY UNTOUCHED BY THE RACE
7TH ABSA CAPE EPIC ROUTE LIVES UP TO LEGENDARY REPUTATION
The dramatic new route of the seventh edition of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas, which takes place from 21 to 28 March next year (2010), will be as challenging as previous years, with both local and international mountain biking enthusiasts taking on the demanding eight day mountain bike race of 722km.
The route, which changes significantly each year, will lead 1 200 cyclists through vast distances of new territory, previously untouched by the race. With its challenging and exhilarating landscapes, the stage locations of Diemersfontein, Ceres and Worcester awaits the most prestigious mountain bike stage race in the world, before the race returns to the well-known orchards and vineyards of Oak Valley and its traditional finish at the Lourensford Wine Estate.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in the southern hemisphere, the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, hosts the opening celebrations and registration for this pioneering, tough and breathtaking mountain bike race Stage 1 will start in Diemersfontein in the heart of wine country.
Says Kevin Vermaak, Director and Founder of the Absa Cape Epic: “In the pursuit of the ultimate mountain biking experience, the Absa Cape Epic has selected some of the best terrain that the Western Cape has to offer. As in 2009, riders will be staying 2 to 3 nights in each stage location. Our route designer, Leon Evans or as he is best known amongst riders, Dr Evil, has found the perfect balance between exciting trails, challenging terrain and wider vistas.”
STAGE 1 – DIEMERSFONTEIN TO CERES (117KM WITH 2 190M OF CLIMBING)
Stage 1 will see riders leave the charming Diemersfontein Wine Estate in the direction of Ceres, the first stage finish of the 2010 Absa Cape Epic. Riders start in the heart of wine country with some steep climbs, leading them to forest single track towards Bainskloof Pass. Another steep climb on dirt tracks takes the race up to the last part on the tarred pass. The smooth tar descent is well-known for its tight turns and riders need to stay alert heading down into the windswept farmlands. Next up is a 5km climb on smooth dirt tracks through Kluytjieskraal. Over the other side, they will find themselves surrounded by mountains, with no sign of civilization, followed by some rocky paths before they traverse the valley. Paying little attention to the views, riders will be dreading the final sting in the tail – the 12km long railway line section over iron sleepers and sharp stones.
STAGE 2 – CERES TO CERES (90KM WITH 1 625M OF CLIMBING)
For 3 nights, the race settles in Ceres – paradise for mountain bikers. Stage 2 is characterised by singletrack, with riders crossing farmlands, descending rocky scrub and navigating forest paths. At the head of the race, riders can expect a fight for position before Eselfontein – an area renowned for its abundance of singletrack. The narrow, steep and rocky climbs will split the race apart and riders off the pace will need to keep a steady rhythm to minimise the damage. The tough climbs are fair payment for the sweeping single track descent and sharp rocks hiding around the treacherous bends. Some more forest single track offers temporary relief, but in the last 10km, traversing farm paths and crossing rivers, there’s still plenty of hard work left.
STAGE 3 – CERES TO CERES (115KM WITH 2 280M OF CLIMBING)
The early farm tracks point off into the distance in the opposite direction of the major obstacle of the day and perhaps the whole race. This high mountain and the radical descent will determine Stage 3. It appears in two parts of which the first follows a wagon trail at a 12% gradient, built over a hundred years ago and becoming continuously more rugged as the climb goes on. A short flat section follows allowing for some recovery, giving them a view of the peak which will soon be referred to as Mount Evilrest. The surface to the summit is smooth but the gradients reach 25%, and the air is thin. Riders will use all the bike-handling skills they have acquired on the descent, negotiating their way down, through huge boulders and ruts deep enough to swallow both rider and bike. Some temporary relief awaits them on the flat, gravel roads before the Gouda Pass descent, with a long way to go back to Ceres. This could be the epic day of all epic days.
STAGE 4 – CERES TO WORCESTER (86KM WITH 1 640M OF CLIMBING)
A short climb followed by a smooth downhill run leaving Ceres on the fourth day means only one thing for the Absa Cape Epic – riders will eventually have to go uphill again. The first 35km will be relatively flat, easy-going farm roads, but then comes a large loop of rustic dual and singletrack. Even with home in their sights, riders have the rough 2km Boesmanberg climb to scale. This is not the toughest or the longest stage, but after the combination punches of stages 1, 2 and 3, riders will be grateful for the short time trial of stage 5 the following day.
STAGE 5 – WORCESTER TO WORCESTER (TIME TRIAL; 27KM WITH 860M OF CLIMBING)
During Stage 5, a 27km time trial through the foothills of Brandwacht takes the race along the western side of Worcester, through semi-desert vegetation. Eight hundred and sixty meters of climbing is a great deal on any day out on a mountain bike, but over only 27km it will be extremely demanding.
STAGE 6 – WORCESTER TO OAK VALLEY (123KM WITH 2 240M OF CLIMBING)
Stage 6 will see riders take the road out of Worcester, hugging the shores of the Brandvlei Dam, followed by some ups and downs. Retracing some of the 2009 route in reverse, what should be a downhill will still feel like an uphill. The climbs are short but the gradients reach 26%. In the distance, riders will head towards the radio mast far away on top of a hill. A dead-straight chute takes the field down to the canals, through the orchards, into the singletrack and then over the wall of the vast Theewaterskloof Dam. Then the race takes a short cut through a hidden valley to Porcupine Hills before heading into virgin Epic mountain biking territory, and deep into nature. Riders then reach the foot of another monument of the Absa Cape Epic – the Cape Nature Conservation area Groenlandberg. Route designer Leon Evans (Dr Evil) has found a new way for riders to conquer this beautiful beast. Part 1 follows a steep dirt road, but at the end of it the elusive crest still lies on the horizon. The second part heads through slow, rugged, washed away and in parts sandy, lumpy tracks. The gradient may flatten out but the effort is intensified. Riders are then rewarded with fast and smooth singletrack in Thandi, and Oak Valley, to finish what is probably the hardest day in this year’s Absa Cape Epic.
STAGE 7 – OAK VALLEY TO OAK VALLEY (99KM WITH 2 160M OF CLIMBING)
The short sharp hills early on in Stage 7 will really burn with five minutes up and 15 seconds down making riders work hard. After the descent past Houwhoek Inn riders will pass Botriver onto some fast gravel roads through the farmland. On the main obstacle of the day up to Lebanon Highlands Plantation, rocks and loose ground force riders to get off their bikes when it gets steep. Dassenberg has been renamed The Beeatch because of its sandy surface as well as level of complexity. Not long in kilometers, this climb will take even the experienced participants more than half an hour to master. After crossing over to Houteq, it is singletrack time, heading into Lebanon for some of the most coveted trails in the Cape. More short, steep climbs stand in the way of a final stretch of swooping paths taking riders to their final night on tour.
FINAL – STAGE 8 – OAK VALLEY TO LOURENSFORD (65KM WITH 1 640M OF CLIMBING)
As is tradition, the last stage is always the shortest, but never easy. When riders see vineyards, they will know it is all about short, sharp climbs before some longer and even steeper ones though Nuweberg, up to see the superb vistas of Elgin/Grabouw. In 2010 the Absa Cape Epic takes a new route into the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, on Buysepad, skirting Gamtoe Pass. There’s no portage this year, but Dr Evil has something else in mind before riders head down for a traditional finish to the 2010 Absa Cape Epic.
Says Kevin Vermaak, Director and Founder of the Absa Cape Epic: “The Absa Cape Epic has grown in popularity amongst cyclists around the world and is increasingly becoming an iconic endurance event well known beyond just the cycling community. Finishing the Absa Cape Epic is and will always be an enormous physical and mental challenge, and riders will need as much dedicated training and preparation to earn the title ‘Absa Cape Epic Finisher’.”
The Absa Cape Epic, the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world, is organised and presented with the participating riders at the focal point. Their satisfaction, well-being and enjoyment of the race are the organisers’ primary goals.
“We aim to deliver an unparalleled and extraordinary full-service mountain bike and African travel-experience,” Vermaak concludes.