On the 23rd of March, mountain biking enthusiasts from across the globe will be gathered at Meerendal Wine Estate to kick off this year’s Absa Cape Epic. The race consists of eight days in which teams of two riders face 718km of gruelling terrain and technical challenges. This year, riders will be climbing 14 850m through known and previously untouched territory throughout the Western Cape.

Stage locations along the way include picturesque landscapes such as Arabella Wines in Robertson, The Oaks in Greyton and Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin. As per Epic tradition, the final day will bring riders to the finish line at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.

Last year Andy Cab sported their very own team consisting of company director, Donald Christy, and riding partner Patrick Williams. The duo rode in support of the Special Needs and Parents (SNAP) charity group.

Fun to be had for spectators

Epic Supporters

With 1 200 of the world’s best mountain bikers taking part, fans of the sport will want to be where the action is.

On Sunday the event began at Meerendal as teams set off on the most prestigious race on the world mountain biking calendar.

Throughout the race supporters can visit spectator points to cheer on their teams. Wine tastings and entertainment kindly be supplied by landowners along the way. Scrumptious eats and promotional items will also be on sale.

The pièce de résistance for riders and fans alike will be the grand finale at Lourensford on Sunday the 30th. Whilst waiting for the racers to make their appearance, supporters are welcome to take part in their own mountain biking or trail running fun by entering the Liqui-Fruit Vineyard Races. Alternatively the day can be spent soaking up sun, indulging in refreshments and enjoying the live performances.

Stage Nine, the official Epic after party will be taking place at The Grand Beach and Café in Granger Bay, where riders can soothe their sore muscles with a seaside cocktail.

This year we’re keeping an eye out for…

With all the top international names in mountain biking congregating in one place, followers of the sport will be keeping a close watch on favourites. This year the Epic will be welcoming back some old faces, and introducing impressive new talent. Here are a few names to watch out for:

Team Connondale Blend (South African)
Between team mates Darren Lill and Charles Keey, this dynamic due has finished five Cape Epics. Lill won the Pick ‘n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge in 2005, and represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

Team Bulls (German and Swiss)
Karl Platt has finished the Epic ten times, including a win in 2009, but 2014 marks only the second time this legend will be riding with teammate Urs Huber.

Team Pragma Orange Monkey (South African)
Hanlie Booyens, 2004 and 2009’s winner in the Epic women’s race, will be pairing up with youngster and newcomer to the event, Mariske Strauss. With an 18-year age gap between the teammates, this team should be an interesting one to watch.

Team BETCH.nl-Superior-Meerendal (Dutch and Brazilian)

In the Masters division (riders over 40), an interesting pairing of professional rider Bart Brentjens and coach Abraao Azevedo will be taking on their first Epic together. Combined, the two have however finished the race nine times with a Masters win for Brentjens in 2012.