When the 2018 Absa Cape Epic gets underway on the iconic slopes of Table Mountain, in Table Mountain National Park, on Sunday the 18th of March, it will start an eight day long festival of mountain biking for fans around the world. For Western Cape locals or visitors to the province for the duration of the Absa Cape Epic the prospect of viewing the world’s best mountain bikers in action, live from the side of the trails, is a mouth-watering one.
Being there to witness the racing in person is obviously the ideal, but for fans unable to do so there are a number of other ways to engage with and follow the racing throughout the eight stages.
“Encourage, encourage, encourage! It is so cool as a rider to be constantly inspired and encouraged to finish this incredible race!” says seven time Absa Cape Epic finisher Joel Stransky. “Ring the bells, shout the names, make a noise and enjoy experience.” the Rugby World Cup winner added.
The Prologue – 18 March
The Prologue, on Sunday the 18th of March, provides the amateur riders with the chance to ease into the race – while the elite riders will use the 20 kilometre long stage to draw first blood on their rivals.
For the fans, assembled at the University of Cape Town – where the Absa Cape Epic starts – on Table Mountain Road or in Newlands Forest the time trial format guarantees entertainment throughout the day. The racing gets underway at 06h40 when the Life’s a Beech team of Craig Beech and Songo Fipaza will be the first team to roll off the start ramp. Thereafter the teams will start at 25 second intervals until it is the turn of UCI Elite teams.
The UCI elite women’s teams, starting at 1 minute intervals, will be led off the ramp by Hannele Steyn and Jeannie Dreyer at 10h38:50. The UCI elite men’s teams will be the day’s final starters, when William Mokgopo and Sithembiso Masango start at 11h45:50. The final team off the Prologue start ramp will be the defending Men’s category champions, Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnermann at 12h33:55.
With all the riders fresh and filled with nervous energy the Prologue is sure to be one of the most exciting stages for the fans.
Stages 1 to 7 Absa Cape Epic
Stage 1,2 and 3, which all exceed 110 kilometres in length, feature spectator points in the most hospitable of places on those days’ long, hard and harsh routes. The juxtaposition of exhausted and dusty riders rolling by while fans relax in luxury at one of the cafés on McGregor’s Main Road (Stage 1), at Kranskop Wines (Stage 2), Rooiberg Cellars or Nuy on the Hill (both Stage 3) will be remarkable to witness.
Stage 4 takes the riders from the Breede River Valley over the mountains and if the weather is clear will offer views of Table Mountain where the journey started five days earlier. Fans will have two opportunities to see the riders en route from Worcester to Wellington; but with both coming on the northern side of Bain’s Kloof, before the decisive moves of the day are likely to have been made in the elite races it might be best to watch the live broadcast and wait for the riders at the Huguenot Schools in Wellington.
Stage 5 is a 39 kilometre long mid-race time-trial. The top 40 UCI men will be first on the trails, starting in the reverse of their general classification order. That means the 40th placed men’s team on the general classification after Stage 4 will be the first team off the start ramp on Stage 5. After the UCI Men the top 10 UCI women’s teams will race against the clock, also starting in reverse general classification order. Thereafter the riders will start at 25 second intervals, as per the Prologue, with the general classification order, starting with A-Batch, determining the starting positions.
Fans can watch the action from either the Diemersfontein or Imbuko Wines official spectator points. Both are within the first 6 kilometres of the stage so the ideal scenario would be to watch the elite riders go by before turning to the live broadcast on the Absa Cape Epic website and Facebook page to watch the stage unfold; with the benefit of time checks and expert analysis.
Stage 6 boasts four spectator points, all within 10 kilometres of the stage’s start/finish venue at the Huguenot Schools. Because of their proximity to one another, for fans only interested in one team it may be possible to rush from one to the next and see your favourite riders at each point. But if it is mountain biking in general you are going to watch choose one and enjoy the morning there. The options are Schalk Burger & Sons, Linton Park, Val du Charron and Doolhof. If you want to watch the start, visit a spectator point see the leading men and women and then reach the finish in time the only feasible option is Val du Charron.
The final stage of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic features two spectator points. All but the most die-hard fans will be making their way straight to Val de Vie, outside Paarl, however for the Grand Finale celebrations. The leading men are expected just before 11 O’clock, by which time the polo fields at Val de Vie are sure to be jam packed with mountain biking fans. Be sure to arrive early if you would like to secure a prime position on the grand stands or book a spot for the best hospitality in the Epic Lounge.
Spectator Points for Absa Cape Epic
Prologue: Date: 18 March
Best Spot: Dead Man’s Tree
Location: On Table Mountain Road, 1.8km after the Cable Way.
GPS: 33°57’20.7″S 18°25’07.1″E
Stage 1: Date: 19 March
Best Spot: McGregor, Main Road
Location: McGregor Village, Western Cape
GPS: 33°56’46.8″S 19°49’47.0″E
Stage 2: Date: 20 March
Spot: Kranskop Wines
Location: Between Robertson and Ashton, 4km off Route 60
GPS: 33°47’56.3″S 19°59’53.5″E
Stage 3: Date: 21 March
Best Spots: Rooiberg Cellars or Nuy on the Hill
Location: Both are just off Route 60 between Robertson and Worcester
GPS: 33°46’36.8″S 19°45’44.3″E or 33°41’08.0″S 19°35’22.6″E
Stage 4: Date: 22 March
Best Spot: Huguenot Schools
Location: 42 Blouvlei Road, Wellington
GPS: 33°38’51.4″S 19°00’31.6″E
Stage 5: Date: 23 March
Best Spots: Diemersfontein or Imbuko Wines
Location: Just outside Wellington on the Piet Retief and Bo Dal Roads.
GPS: 33°39’32.1″S 19°00’15.9″E & 33°40’30.4″S 19°01’20.3″E
Stage 6: Date: 24 March
Best Spot: Val du Charron
Location: Off the Bovlei Road, outside Wellington
GPS: 33°37’29.6″S 19°02’50.0″E
Stage 7: Date: 25 March
Best Spots: Val de Vie
Location: Off Rout 301, outside Paarl
GPS: 33°48’08.1″S 18°58’03.2″E
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