The Absa Cape Epic is the most televised mountain bike race in the world and the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI); this official UCI status makes it a highlight on the professional racer's calendar. The Absa Cape Epic also attracts aspiring amateur riders wanting to test themselves against the best. It is a full-service race, meaning that everything is taken care of from the start - all riders need to think about is riding.
The race must be completed by both members of a two-person team with only 680 teams allowed to ride the race each year. Every edition follows a different route, leading aspiring amateur and professional mountain bikers from around the world through roughly 700 untamed kilometres of unspoilt scenery and up 16 000m of vertical ascent.
The Absa Cape Epic is the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world. From the day the race starts, riders need only look after their bodies and continue racing. Everything else is taken care of.
An early buffet breakfast is served each morning. Race nutrition, water and isotonic carbohydrate drinks are freely available at water points throughout the route. Trained medical staff are on course and a fully-equipped race hospital is in operation at each Race Village. At each stage finish line riders' bikes are cleaned by the Bike Wash team while the Woolworths Recovery Zone restores energy levels with nutritious lunch and snacks.
From the first to the last stage, rider bags are transported between the different Race Villages. Single-person tents with mattresses are provided, where exhausted riders can rest and enjoy a comfortable night's sleep and enclosed shower units offer riders a relaxing, private shower after a gruelling day in the saddle.
The Absa Cape Epic route team takes two years to plan exactly where in South Africa's rugged Western Cape riders will test themselves with a distance of around 700km and 17 250m climbing. The route is a well-kept secret until it is announced each year. Guaranteed each year are challenging traverses of iconic fynbos valleys, majestic mountains ranges, deep ravines, indigenous forests, spectacular coastlines, and flourishing vineyards.
The terrain is as varied as it is harsh - dusty and demanding gravel roads, strenuous rocky climbs, thrilling technical descents, refreshing river crossings, and fast forest singletracks. The Absa Cape Epic route gives riders and fans the opportunity to experience the historic and scenic towns in the Western Cape, many of them off the beaten tourist track, and more than 40 towns have been visited by the Absa Cape Epic since 2004.