Being the outcast can 'rock'
Worcester - For amateur riders participating in the Absa Cape Epic, who have lost their partner during the event (often due to fatigue or equipment failure), the event organisers allow for the remaining partner to be a potential finisher of the Magical and Untamed African Mountain Bike race.
The event organisers provide a list of other amateur riders who have also lost their partners, with an opportunity for new teams to be formed who can participate together from the following day.
During the 2009 Absa Cape Epic, when New Zealand Olympic rider Kashi Leuchs lost his partner during the early stages of the race, he suggested the idea of an Outcast Jersey.
Kevin Vermaak, founder and director of the Absa Cape Epic says: “Unfortunately, due to the fact that pro-riders often have conflicting sponsors, they can’t just form new teams in the way that the amateur riders are able to do. Furthermore, it’s also dangerous for pro-riders to ride with amateur riders as their skill levels are so vastly different. Historically UCI professional riders would just stop riding at that point.”
“We thought it was a great idea and offered a wonderful solution. It was first introduced in 2010, whereby pro-riders would still be able to participate alone and be potential Absa Cape Epic finishers. The Outcast Jersey had to be clearly recognisable - and that’s how we came up with the idea of a white jersey with zebra stripes to be worn by solo-riding pro-riders. To date, David George is the most high-profiled rider ever to wear an Outcast Jersey.”
George lost his partner, Kevin Evans, after he fell during Stage 1 and broke his collarbone.
The rules for pro-riders participating with the Outcast Jersey are that others should be able to spot them easily, and that they may not interfere with the race whatsoever.
“For example, at a single-track section, George will have to wait for other pro-riders to go down first as to not hold them up.
“The Outcast Jersey pro-riders may also not benefit teams in any way, by allowing other teams to draft behind them or share equipment as they would be able to do if they were still full participating teams. They are, however, able to start with the elite groups, as long as there is no interference and it doesn’t affect the racing results,” says Vermaak.
When George arrived at the water points today during Stage 3, he was greeted with loud cheers by fans and spectators. The good news for supporters is that he is still able to finish the race as an Absa Cape Epic finisher.
Commenting on wearing the outcast jersey, George says: “The Outcast jersey wasn’t the jersey I pictured myself wearing. I’m happy to be able to continue albeit a bit disappointed. However, I’m starting to see the brighter side of life and am overwhelmed by the support from spectators, sponsors, crews and the race organisers. This race is brutal, but it rocks!”
Kevin Evans is back in Plettenberg Bay, recovering after a complicated but successful operation where a plate was inserted into his collar bone to supplement an already existing plate.
He is following the Absa Cape Epic online for the first time in his life.
Vermaak concluded by saying: “Evans has always been a top ten finisher in every stage of all previous seven Absa Cape Epics apart from two stages. There is a slim chance that he’ll be able to attend the final day at the Lourensford Wine Estate.”