Wild New Route Planned For Absa Cape Epic 2011 MTB Race

The Absa Cape Epic is the most prestigious mountain bike race in the world and 1,200 cyclists are expected to participate in the raw, natural locations of Saronsberg (Tulbagh), Worcester, and Oak Valley.

Absa Cape Epic 2010.  Photo: Gary Perkins/SportzpicsAnother extremely challenging route is planned for the 2011 Absa Cape Epic presented by Adidas. The intense mountain bike race will be held from March 27th to April 3rd and event hosts welcome both local and international mountain biking enthusiasts to the eight day race.

For the second time in the Absa Cape Epic’s history, riders will compete in a prologue. A common feature in grand road cycling tours, the prologue in the Tokai Forest, part of Table Mountain National Park, will allow spectators to see teams race against the clock.

Regarded as the Eden of mountain biking in Cape Town, this revered network of trails represents all of what makes this sport so great, with tough climbs, fast descents and flowing single-track forming the 27km route.

Kevin Vermaak, Director and Founder of the Absa Cape Epic ensures that the route will be a challenge.

“The Absa Cape Epic has again selected some of the best terrain that the Western Cape has to offer," said Vermaak. "Our route designer, Leon Evans or as he is best known amongst riders, Dr Evil, has again found the perfect balance between exciting trails, challenging terrain and wider vistas in the pursuit of the ultimate mountain biking experience.”

Stage 1 – Saronsberg to Saronsberg (outside Tulbagh) - (89km with 2 050m of climbing): The flat roads at the beginning will give a false sense of security, since this stage is full of incredibly steep, rough and loose climbs and treacherous descents, volleyball-sized rocks and sand patches will pock the little-used dual tracks.  The last climb will bring riders to the top of one of most precariously difficult downhill’s that the Absa Cape Epic has ever seen.

Stage 2: Saronsberg to Saronsberg (104km and 2 300m of climbing) A 12km steady upward drag will take riders to a 6km climb on an ancient Voortrekker wagon trail, specially opened for the race. At the top, the 18km mark, riders will have already ascended almost 1 000m.

Stage 3 – Saronsberg to Worcester (125 km and 1 900m of climbing) With the fast roads out of town, riders will cover 13 km before the first climb. It is steep at times and very loose, requiring hard bursts of effort to gain momentum over the rockiest parts. After the 4km climb, riders will arrive at a plateau.  The deeply rutted descent will test the riders and and devil thorns will pose an additional challenge.

Stage 4 - Worcester to Worcester (32km with 800m of climbing) Stage 4 will mark another first for the Absa Cape Epic – two time trials in one race – with a 32km route through the foothills of Brandwacht. As usual, the top teams will leave at 1 minute intervals, racing only against the clock, some looking for a stage win and others to consolidate. While the pro teams battle it out, experienced amateurs will be saving themselves for the second half of the Absa Cape Epic.

Stage 5 - Worcester to Oak Valley (143km with 2 350m of climbing) With fast open roads, marked by 3 obstacles along the way, riders will be wise to save their strength and cooperate with other teams to form larger groups, to take turns at the front to lighten the load.

Stage 6 - Oak Valley to Oak Valley (128km with 2 700m of climbing) In the penultimate stage riders will head over Groendlandberg, for the second time in two days, this time following the 2010 route in reverse. After crossing the R43 riders need to come to terms with a tough sandy climb, nicknamed ‘The Beeatch’.

Stage 7 - Oak Valley to Lourensford (59km with 1 700m of climbing) It is the same every year and won't be any different in 2011 - the last day of the Absa Cape Epic might be short but it is never easy. Old Viljoen’s Pass and Nuweberg remind riders that it is not over yet. Trail builders are in the process of cutting new routes and Dr Evil has warned riders of a final few surprises before a traditional finish at Lourensford.


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