Absa Cape Epic: The countdown is on
In two days, on Saturday, 21 March 2009, the Absa Cape Epic, now in ist sixth year, will kick off with a prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain and will finish 8 days and 685km later at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.
This year, 1200 athletes from 46 countries participate in the Magical and Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. Mountainbikers come all the way from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Sweden the USA and Venezuela to join the Absa Cape Epic.
Within eight days, the 600 two-person-teams have to cycle 685 gruelling kilometres and climb some 14.663 vertical metres on their bikes, which is the equivalent of riding twice up Mount Everest.
The 2009 race will see the second team time trial prologue of 16.5 km on the Slopes of world heritage site Table Mountain on Saturday, 21 March 2009. Each team will depart at 30-second intervals and race against the clock to determine their start seeding for Stage 1, which starts in Gordon't Bay the following day.
In 2006, the Absa Cape Epic became the first ever team mountainbike stage race at which UCI points were awarded. The 2009 race is the only mountain bike stage race to be classified HC (hors categorie) by the UCI. Thus, the entrants include some of the best Cross Country and Marathon riders in the world like Christoph Sauser, the current World Cross Country champion (SUI), Olympic gold medallists Bart Brentjens (NED) and Miguel Martinez (FRA), Olympic silver medallist José Hermida (ESP), as well as the Absa Cape Epic winners of 2007 and runner-up 2008, Karl Platt (GER) and Stefan Sahm (GER). The 2009 race also sees Under 23 UCI World Cup winner Burry Stander (RSA), Kevin Evans (RSA) and David George (RSA), the only South African team to make it to the Absa Cape Epic podium, as well as multiple World Champion and World Cup winner Alison Sydor (CAN).
The Magical and Untamed African Mountain Bike Race is also a massive logistics project. The organisers pitch over 1400 tents per day and transport 275 tons of equipment from stage town to stage town. Twenty-seven heavy-duty trucks and transporters and over 700 crew, volunteers and supplier representatives are involved in implementing the largest mountain bike stage race in the world.
Naomi Hansen, the woman who for the past ten days has managed a smile, even in her darkest moments, was handed the ultimate accolade by her fellow Crocodile Trophy combatants today.
After 25 years of BMX at Cologne Jugendpark, there has to be an adequate celebration for this historical anniversary. Due to this the next World Championships will take place in Cologne.