Many of the world’s best cross-country mountain bike racers will take on the wide-open spaces of South Africa starting Sunday in the Absa Cape Epic.
Some 1,200 athletes from 50 countries will participate in the eight-day mountain bike team stage race that covers 722km through South Africa’s Western Cape. Be sure to check out Singletrack.com next week for daily updates and photos from the race.
For 2010, the Cape Epic is the only mountain bike stage race to be classified HC (hors categorie) by the UCI. That challenge and UCI points attract the likes of reigning World Cross-Country Champion Nino Schurter; 2008 World Cross Country Champion Christoph Sauser; Olympic gold medallists Bart Brentjens; Olympic silver medallist José Hermida, as well as three-time Absa Cape Epic winner Karl Platt and two-time Absa Cape Epic winner Stefan Sahm.
The 2010 race will also have a strong force in South Africa’s own Burry Stander, David George and Kevin Evans. Stander is the 2009 Under 23 UCI World Champion.
In the mix as well willl be Austria’s Alban Lakata, Mannie Heymans and the Flückiger brothers, who completed their first Absa Cape Epic in 2009 with a stage win on the final day.
Along with the pros, the two-person teams start in one of four different categories: Men, Ladies, Mixed and Masters (both riders must be 40 years or older).
A new route is designed each year and the race is entirely off-road. Within eight days, the 600 two-person-teams have to ride 722km (about 450 miles) and climb some 14,635 meters (about 48,000 feet) on their bikes, the equivalent of riding twice up Mount Everest. Participants have to complete the time trial and all seven stages.