Cape Town - The
route has been revealed and will contain more singletrack than ever before in
the race’s 12-year-history.
total of 110km of the 647km route will be made up of singletrack trails as the
eight-days of riding takes riders from Table Mountain to Tulbagh, Wellington,
Stellenbosch and Durbanville.
the 647km is shorter than previous years it includes more climbing per each of
those kilometres than ever before. In 2016 riders will climb
14 950m during the Prologue and seven stages.
means riders will be ascending 23.1m per kilometre, even more than this
year’s 21.4m per km.
director Kati Csak, who rode the entire route on the official trial ride in
August and September, said riders would be making a mistake if they were to
read too much into the shorter distance.
is a lot of climbing, a lot of singletrack that will require skill and
concentration, and some unstable and difficult surfaces,” she said.
test the skills of riders as much as any of the 12 previous races.”
2016 race will also introduce the daily Land Rover Technical Terrain sections,
where riders’ skills, capability and composure will be tested on tricky
descents or challenging singletrack.
world’s premier mountain bike stage race returns to the iconic slopes of Table
Mountain on March 13 for the 21km prologue, which again starts and finishes at
the University of Cape Town.
will then transfer to Tulbagh and lots of exhilarating new singletrack on
Stages 1 and 2.
Stage 3 runs south from Tulbagh to Wellington and the next
day’s Stage 4 will be spent on the legendary trails of Welvanpas.
includes five rugged climbs between Wellington and the new race village at
Boschendal Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.
Stage 6 will introduce riders to the
mountain biking delights of Stellenbosch before Stage 7 takes those still left
in the race to the Grand Finale at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville ... and
the well-deserved status of Absa Cape Epic finisher.
Mountain (University of Cape Town)
to the Mountain
2016 Absa Cape Epic Prologue returns to the slopes of Table Mountain, once
again starting and finishing at the University of Cape Town. This year it
includes more of UCT’s cross country course and an extra
singletrack section on the mountain. But there’s still that climb – the one locals have given an
unprintable, expletive-laden name – and then the testing ascent up to Dead Man’s
Tree before riders sweep home along the Tafelberg Road and down the steep Epic
to Plum Pudding Hill. A final and fun section of singletrack down near the
university should ensure most riders finish their first day of the 2016 Absa
Cape Epic and their time spent in Table Mountain National Park with a smile.
Saronsberg, Tulbagh – Saronsberg,
2 300m climbing
its 300 years Tulbagh has built a reputation for excellent wine. Now the town
nestled in a beautiful, lush valley is beginning to earn a name for great
mountain biking, thanks to the efforts of local enthusiasts. From the race
village at Saronsberg Wine Estate, Stage 1 loops around the town in the Tulbagh
bowl with more than a few trips up the slopes of its surrounding mountains. It
will introduce riders to many of the new tracks in the area with the action
starting on the day’s Landrover Technical Terrain, the Bone Trail, which snakes
upwards across the mountainside. Then it’s downhill on The Labyrinth's zigzag
singletrack descent. Riders will also cross Confucius’s
Bridge and enjoy the Fairy Loop. After some early climbing most of the cool
sections are between the 45km to 70km marks, but include some rugged ascents –
the profile for that section looks like a set of shark’s
Saronsberg, Tulbagh – Saronsberg,
2 200m climbing
100th stage in the 13-year existence of the Absa Cape Epic will be a memorable
one for more than just its place in history. Directly east of Tulbagh lies the
old wagon trail over the Witzenberg mountain range which veterans of the 2010
and 2013 Absa Cape Epics will remember well. On Stage 2 riders will traverse it
twice – going up the steep side with portage sections on the way into the
Witzenberg Valley and then on the way back the thrilling Land Rover Technical
Terrain descent into Tulbagh towards the finish. In-between those testing bits
of trail they will experience the unique geology of the Witzenberg Valley as
they loop through its distinctive sandstone formations on trails carved out by
local farmers and mountain bikers. There’s a couple of
testing climbs in there too.
Saronsberg, Tulbagh – CPUT,
2 150m climbing
transition stage – linking one stage location to another – with a difference.
After the rugged climb on the remote tracks of the Waterval climb riders will
cross the Zuurvlakte – a pan fringed by mountains that looks like it belongs in
a Western movie. The Zuurvlakte reserve has only just been opened again after
devastating fires (but which did have the effect of regenerating the fynbos and
Proteas) and this sandy and rocky section will include the day’s Land Rover
Technical Terrain. A little while later it’s
on to the tar and the long climb up the Bain’s
Kloof Pass, a national monument, before a twirl around the highly-regarded
Welvanpas trails near Wellington. Riders new to the Welvanpas network will get
a rude introduction to the WTF? climb and some sharp ascents, but will also get
to enjoy weaving descents such as the breathtaking Super G.
CPUT, Wellington – CPUT,
1 850m climbing
day will be spent almost exclusively on the Welvanpas trail network. Not long
after the start the legs will be tested on the Patatskloof climb, then
down Cool Runnings Too, up the Aap Duez (with a mere 29 switchbacks) and down
Route 66. The loop also includes the Welvanpas White Route, filled with
interesting singletrack and one notoriously bumpy section called the Cheese
Grater – the stage’s Land Rover Technical Terrain section. A day for the purist
mountain biker perhaps, but there are a lot of testing climbs – including three
tough ones shortly before the finish. Riders will have to work for their
CPUT, Wellington – Boschendal,
2 500m climbing
not the famous wildlife that roams Africa’s plains: five big
climbs dotted across the day’s riding. Being a
transition stage there are some forest roads to negotiate, but soon after the
start the route turns upwards on the Slangrivier climb. Then it’s
on to Patatskloof again – but a different route to Stage 4 – and Beulah, which
leads into Hawequa (if you’ve got the time,
look out for the great view of the Paarl Rock), and then the Protea climb. As
you get close to the Drakenstein Prison – formerly Victor Verster, where the father of South Africa’s democracy, Nelson
Mandela, took his first steps after being freed in 1990 – you will be greeted
by the rugged Freedom Struggle climb and Bone Rattler descent, Stage 5’s Land
Rover Technical Terrain section. All of which might make this the toughest day
of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic.
Boschendal, Stellenbosch - Boschendal,
2 100m climbing
to the delights of Stellenbosch and surrounds. Not long after the start, and
the rare opportunity to ride through the Simonsberg Conservancy, riders will
get a stunning view back across the vineyards to Stellenbosch and False Bay,
with Table Mountain in the distance. But Stellenbosch is also about great
mountain biking: look out for the Tunnel of Love trail through wattle trees,
the Murati loop and the series of great singletrack sections that follow it.
The renowned Skyfall singletrack descent is appropriately the Land Rover
Technical Terrain section of the day. But there is a whole lot more too, once
again including some testing climbs. The ride back to Boschendal treats riders
to a passage through the Banhoek Conservancy and then some quite tricky
Boschendal, Stellenbosch - Meerendal,
1 200m climbing
grand Grand Finale
numbers speak for themselves: not too much climbing for the weary as they make
their way to the finish at Meerendal Wine Estate. There is some early ascending
in the first 25km as the route hugs the Simonsberg mountain before some
district roads take riders on a tour of the local farms and some vineyards. Then it’s
into the Tygerberg network’s legendary
Hoogekraal and Meerendal trails, which includes a great Land Rover Technical
Terrain section. In Meerendal riders will get a striking view of Table Mountain
to remind them of the beginning of their journey a week earlier. As they get to
hear the strains of the PA and cheering crowds from the Grand Finale finish
they will be introduced to Meerendal’s Stairway to
Heaven climb for one last test of the legs before turning on to its fun bermed
sections on the way down to the well-deserved status of Absa Cape Epic