Cape Town - In 2017 the
Absa Cape Epic returns to an old favourite seaside venue for a spectacular
Stage 1 ... and finishes at a new Grand Finale venue.
Prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate the riders, crew and supporters will transfer
to Hermanus for the first staging of the race in the coastal town since 2008.
In the intervening years the area has been turned into something of a mountain
biking mecca, with a network of trails snaking across the nearby hills and
later the event will finish for the first time at the renowned Val de Vie
Estate near Franschhoek.
going to be a special ride this year,” said race director Kati Csak. “The
riding around Hermanus is a lot of fun – with some tough climbs – and the new
Grand Finale venue at Val de Vie is going to be spectacular. As always, the
route will test both the skills and the stamina of the riders.”
route will take riders through 691 km of Western Cape countryside and up a lot
of hills: the accumulated vertical gain over the eight days will be 15 400m.
Prologue will again be held on the Meerendal Wine Estate trails and include
parts of neighbouring Hoogekraal. Then it is on to Hermanus, where the 101km
opening stage starts and finishes at the local high school.
sees riders bidding farewell to the whales and heading inland to Greyton for
Stage 3 starts and finishes in Greyton and includes most of the
many trails around the quaint town.
Stage 4 is
another transition day, this time from Greyton to Elgin and the race village at
the Oak Valley Wine Estate. Stage 5 takes riders on a circular route around the
Grabouw/Elgin area and lots of singletrack.
be well advised to enjoy Stage 5’s relatively short distance and great trails:
the next day they will be confronting
the 2017 route’s Queen Stage – 103km with an eye-watering 2 750m of
elevation gain. This could well mean that the 6th stage could be decisive in
the race for overall honours.
takes riders to the new Grand Finale venue – the sumptuous Val de Vie Estate
near Franschhoek – and a well-deserved finisher’s shirt.
Next year's race will take place between March 19-26.
Meerendal Wine Estate
Prologue route includes spectacular views of some world famous landmarks –
across Table Bay to the iconic Table Mountain, with Robben Island nestled in
the sparkling sea in the foreground. But riders will not be afforded much
opportunity to enjoy them: the best viewing point follows a lung-busting climb
up Meerendal’s notorious Stairway to Heaven to the top of the Dorstberg. All
that hard work takes place in the opening sequences of the Prologue and is
followed by some testing ups and downs on Hoogekraal’s highly regarded trails
before turning back to Meerendal via
some steep vineyards, dairy fields and a burst of singletrack.
gain: 2 300m
traditionally associated with whales and wine, but it is increasingly becoming
a place where mountain bikers can enjoy their sport on the ever-growing local
trail network. The 2017 Absa
Cape Epic’s opening stage will give riders a
sample of all that is best about the beautiful seaside town and its surrounds.
Soon after the start the route heads up Rotary Way and along the spine of the
mountain before dipping down into the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Then it is up the
Nine One One Climb and some ups and downs along the flanks and stunning wine
farms of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Once they have reached Tesselaarsdal they
will confront the rugged climb and descent known as the Haarkappers Roete
– named after the barber who regularly walked over the Klein River
Mountains in the 1950s to cut hair in Stanford. From the bottom of the tricky
descent the route turns back towards Hermanus and riders will finish the day
with a fun spin along the town’s urban assault mountain biking section.
gain: 2 350m
takes riders north to a new race village in quaint Greyton, with some fierce
climbs along the way. Before long riders will get acquainted with the day’s biggest
challenge: Shaw’s Pass. It is only four kilometres but gains more than 220m in
altitude and on one section the gradient kicks up more
than 20%. Later they will confront some other testing climbs either side of the
Caledon Kloof and in the mountains looming above Greyton. There will, however,
be relief during the day with some stunning singletrack sections through
beautiful fynbos. And finally riders will cross the day’s last ridge and drop
down to the race village at Elandskloof. Bird lovers will enjoy sightings of
elegant Blue Cranes –South Africa’s national bird – along the route as it
gain: 1 650m
rugged days riders will get to enjoy a shorter stage and the mountain biking delights
of Greyton. After a country meander that takes riders through nearby Bereaville
and Genadendal, it is straight into a series of climbs including Mad Dog Bite,
Zig Zag and the UFO – the latter so named because of
the strange UFO-like building perched on the hilltop.
But what goes up must go down, which means some thrilling descents and great,
rugged singletrack. Be warned though: the trails are rugged and many a sharp
rock lies in wait.
Gain: 2 150m
transition between two of the Western Cape’s most sought after holiday getaways
takes riders on many ups and downs, and a burst of singletrack. It is rolling
hills from the moment you leave Greyton and riders will approach one particular
climb with apprehension: it’s called Pumping Legs for good reason, and as you
approach it seems like the road heads up straight into the sky. Later they will
cut through the Klipheuwel-Dassiefontein
Wind Energy Facility near
Caledon, where they can marvel at the 100m high wind turbines with their 58m
blades. On the way to the new race village at Oak Valley they will head up the old Houw Hoek Pass
(constructed in 1904 and also known as the River Pass because it follows the
course of the Jakkals River).
Stage 5: Elgin-Elgin
gain: 2 100m
always a fun day at the Absa Cape Epic, and barring bad weather this should be
it. First there are a few climbs to negotiate, including the legendary Nuweberg
from the east side. A couple more climbs and tricky descents as the course
weaves across the hills above Grabouw and then riders will be in singletrack heaven. They will do most
of the A-to-Z trail network above the Elgin/Grabouw Country Club and around the
Eikenhof Dam and then enjoy the renowned trails on Paul Cluver Estate and Oak
Valley as they head back to the race village.
gain: 2 750m
veterans of the Absa Cape Epic were asked about the toughest climb ever in the
event their response was unanimous: Groenlandberg. In 2017 the route returns to
the rugged track which rises more than 600m along nine kilometres of rocky,
sandy climbing – the average gradient is seven percent but one or two sections
tilt up more than 20%.
confrontation with the race’s most notorious climb comes 20km into the route’s
Queen Stage. Then it is more rocky trail across the back of the Groenlandberg,
another tough climb, a bump or two and then under the N2. Now it is time to
explore the south side of the Grabouw district. Riders will loop through the
Kogelberg Nature Reserve – one of 400 unique biosphere reserves in the world –
and private farmland before heading back under the N2 via Lebanon’s flowing
7: Elgin-Val de Vie
gain: 1 350m
2017 the Absa Cape Epic finishes for the first time at Val de Vie and its
renowned polo fields – the fourth host for the Grand Finale in the race’s 14
editions. After leaving Oak Valley the finish is just 85km away and the riders
have the least climbing to do on any day of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. They will,
however, be well advised to keep some energy in hand for the climb up the
Franschhoek Pass after about 40km. That seven kilometre haul
rises nearly 400m, marking the last major climb of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.
Then it is through some twists and turns around Franschhoek and finally the
Grand Finale finish line – and the much sought after finisher’s shirt – awaits
at Val de Vie.