The Cape Epic MTB race is an annual race which is held in the Western Cape of South Africa. The race was first held in 2004 and covers over 700 kilometers or 435 miles of varying terrain. The race is sponsored by ABSA bank and takes 8 days to complete.
The route of the Cape Epic differs each year, but always starts and ends in the Western Cape. The race started as a point-to-point race with the start in Knysna and the end in the winelands of the Western Cape. However, this route was amended in 2009 to allow the riders to spend a number of days on each stage of the race. This allows the Cape Epic to cover more of the region and looks unlikely to change.
The Race Regulations
All riders entering the Cape Epic will need to be part of a 2 person team. One of the reasons for this was increased rider safety as parts of the route are very remote and the team members are able to look out for each other. The team concept also adds an extra edge to the race as the team members have to stay within 2 minutes of each other.
The 2-minute distance is enforced through the use of timing mats placed throughout the route. If a team fails this distance three times they are disqualified from the race. The teams will also have to reach the end of the stage within the maximum stage time.
There are 5 categories that racers are placed in and they are men, women, mixed, masters and grand masters. Each category has a colored jacket to denote who the leaders in the category are. This means that riders will be looking to win the different stages as well as the category they are in. To determine the leaders in each category the lowest overall time at the end of each stage is taken.
If a rider is unable to finish a stage within the time allowed they are classed as blue board riders. These riders will be able to continue the race after the first offense, but will not be part of the official race finishers. If a rider does not complete the stage within the time twice they will not be allowed to continue racing.
Riders who lose their partners and are UCI licensed are allowed to continue the race on their own. However, they are not allowed to affect the race in any way including offering assistance to other riders and are provided with an outcast rider jacket. If a team accepts assistance from an outcast rider they will be penalized.
Riders who have the same sponsors are allowed to offer assistance and technical equipment from their bicycle to other riders. It is also within the rules for riders without the same sponsor to form alliances. However, they are not able to offer assistance to the teams within their alliances.
Riders who return for the race each year will become part of a loyalty program known as Amabubesi or pack of lions in Zulu. Members of the program receive a special certificate as well as a set of additional benefits. To be eligible for the club you will need to complete the race 3 times, but the more times the race has been completed the better the benefits provided.
The teams who win the overall race for their categories will receive a prize purse. In 2014 the Cape Epic offered the highest paying prize for their women’s category as they increased it to be level with the men’s category purse. The purse was increased as the sponsors of the race stated that the women ride the same course as the men and should have a prize purse that reflects this.