From the yellow to orange, white to grey, blue to purple to green to red, the Absa Cape Epic Ciovita leader jerseys are a statement of superiority.
Whether worn for just one stage or awarded for the overall victory, the mountain bikers who carry these on their shoulders are champions, deserving of great respect. There are six categories: Men, Women, Mixed, Masters, Great Grand Masters, and Amateurs. There are also three special jerseys, namely the Exxaro jersey - which is awarded to the leading development team - and the Men’s and Women’s Absa African jerseys, awarded to the leading men’s and women’s all-African teams respectively.
The jersey leaders are decided by totalling the time each team takes on the daily stages. The team with the lowest overall time at the end of each stage receives leader jerseys and the right to start the next stage of the race in those jerseys.
At the end of eight days of the Absa Cape Epic, the winners of each category and special jersey races are awarded a trophy to match the grandeur of their achievement. Each trophy has been meticulously designed by a respected artist and is a fitting reward for the efforts invested in the victory.
The yellow zebra jersey is worn by the overall leading team in the Men’s category and the team in yellow after the full eight days of racing is the overall winner of the Absa Cape Epic.
The category attracts Elite mountain bikers from around the world and showcases the best that the sport has to offer. Competitors have included Olympic gold medallists, current and former World Champions and top-ranked marathon and cross country mountain bike professionals.
The Men’s trophy was created by celebrated South African artist, Niël Jonker and awarded to the winning team for the first time in 2010. For the trophy, Niël took his inspiration from the original Cape Epic logo, which included Zebra stripes, a mountain biker and the colours of the South African flag. The sculpture is cast in solid bronze and mounted on a block of Assegai timber, the trophy stands 37cm high and weighs 8.2kgs.
The winners of the floating trophy receive a mini replica also cast in bronze and presented in a box made from zebra skin and calf leather. Details about that year’s race, including distance, climbing and date, are inscribed on a small brass plaque.
The orange leader jersey is worn by the leading team in the CM.com Women’s category.
UCI points begun being awarded in the CM.com Women’s category from 2012 and in 2014 the category prize purse was boosted to equal that of the men. From 2016 UCI Women’s teams would start in a separate batch after the UCI Men, which served once again to sharpen the competition in the category. Olympic medallists, current and former World Champions and the world’s top women marathon racers contest the distinctive orange jersey each year.
The current Women’s trophy, designed by award-winning young Cape Town sculptor, Isabel Mertz, is in fact the second Women’s trophy to be awarded to the winners of the CM.com Women’s category of the Absa Cape Epic. The first Women’s trophy was introduced in 2012 to coincide with the women’s race being awarded Hors Catégorie (beyond categorisation) status by the UCI and the introduction of the new African cog logo for the Absa Cape Epic. The current trophy includes bronze stones which represent the rough and unforgiving terrain that riders must overcome. It includes two stones placed on top of each other, symbolising team work between the teams of two riders. The shape of the cast bronze ‘branches’ curling around the stones are based on the structure of an adrenaline molecule, emphasising the endurance aspect of the Absa Cape Epic.
The sculpture is mounted on wood from an African fig tree: in African mythology figs and fig trees are symbols of fertility and femininity. The Women’s trophy is the first trophy to be designed by a female artist and the foundry in which it was cast is also exclusively used by women.
The Amateur category salutes dedicated riders competing at a top level despite their work commitments. This category will be hotly contested by eligible riders aged 19-39 who are not UCI registered professionals. The GC leaders of the Amateur category will receive the honour of wearing the new white leader jerseys.
The race for the blue NTT Masters category leader jersey has, over the years, evolved to become nearly as fierce as that for the overall victory of the Absa Cape Epic.
Both team members in this category must be 40 years or older on 31 December of the year in which the race takes place. World champions, ex-Tour de France riders and veterans of the world’s pro circuits have battled it out for bragging rights in this category. The winners routinely finish within the top 20 of the field.
The winners of the NTT Masters category at the Absa Cape Epic will likely have been presented with many trophies in their time: World Championship colours, Tour de France winner’s crystal, Olympic gold medals. Now these stars will race for a trophy designed by a son of one of the regions the Absa Cape Epic has visited during its 19 years. Willie Bester was born in Montagu where he first showed his artistic talent as a 10-year-old when designing elaborate wire cars. Bester, whose work has demonstrated expressions of the struggle for freedom in South Africa, is an internationally renowned artist with a reputation for his innovative use of a vast array of materials found in scrap yards and around.
He has taken his inspiration for the NTT Masters trophy from Picasso, the legendary Spanish artist. Bester has breathed new life into a humble bicycle saddle, bestowing it with character and strength, embracing the untamed ethos of the Absa Cape Epic.
The distinctive purple jersey was introduced in 2013 and has proved to be highly competitive category, with several teams vying for the top spot each year. Teams wishing to compete in this category must be made up of riders both over the age of 50. The winners of this category also frequently feature in the top 20 of the field, proving that they still have what it takes to mix it up in the front.
Sculptor, Guy du Toit’s inspiration when creating the trophy for the winners of the Grand Masters category was to envelope himself in the ethos and experience of riders over 50 years old: mastery, wisdom, dignity and intellect and inner strength. Du Toit, himself in his late 50s, has created a timeless trophy that speaks to the past, future and present of those who compete for it.
The trophy is a wheel, or a circle, with a cycle spoor running deep on the outside, with a texture that celebrates the Western Cape landscape. The choice of the circle was informed by the fact that the dot is one of the most potent design elements and is endless, which is suggestive of the Grand Master's journey. The circle functions as a lens, looking both back at that which has gone before and that which is to come.
The trophy is cast in bronze and has, appropriately enough for the Grand Masters, an antique patina.
With riders staying active, fitter, and competitive for longer, introducing the Great Grand Master category for riders aged 60 plus was a natural progression. The new grey Great Grand Masters jersey provides extra incentive to keep racing, offering bragging rights of lifting a new trophy to celebrate the winning team’s success.
The male/female combination adds a different dynamic to racing the Absa Cape Epic, and the race for the dark green Mixed category jerseys has proven to be strongly contested. Many of the world’s top riders have competed for honours in this category.
Rina Stutzer, the artist behind the trophy for the winners of the Mixed category, found inspiration for her creation from her personal relationship with the Absa Cape Epic. She has followed two races from start to finish as a supporter of her partner and friends. For Stutzer, the spirit of the Epic is irrepressible.
Her design has focused on the ascent, an aspect that, for many, is the essence of the race. It is the climb that challenges the athletes, taking them to a world unseen to complete a journey of self-discovery and mutual awareness. As the Mixed category is one in which team members must find the perfect balance and harmony between strengths and weaknesses, both mental and physical, Stutzer has depicted the poetic beauty of a winding, steep incline with a thin sliver of a path that is dotted with riders winding their way to the top.
The trophy is designed around the route to the top of the mountain or the end of the race, a chosen path where the team can consciously commit themselves to expand and transform with every level of ascension.
In 2012, the first Exxaro MTB Academy riders joined the Race and became a catalyst for introducing historically disadvantaged South African’s to the sport of mountain biking. The Exxaro Jersey is awarded to the top historically disadvantaged South African team where both riders are under the age of 26. In recent years the number of competitors for this jersey has mushroomed.
The objectives of the Exxaro Special Jersey:
• Increase the number of historically disadvantaged South African riders participating in MTB
• Increase the number of historically disadvantaged South African riders participating and finishing in events like the Absa Cape Epic, and thereby establishing them as role models for young kids
• Associate Exxaro with empowerment, leadership and support of the transformation of MTB in South Africa
• Use sport (MTB) and a healthy lifestyle to improve people's quality of life
• Create change in the lives of communities by providing young people with a healthy alternative - sport vs drug and alcohol abuse
• Inspire children/young adults to build a positive future for themselves and their families, thereby creating an environment to fulfill their dreams and rebuild communities
• Working closely with Exxaro and other academies to provide access to entries and support to complete the Absa Cape Epic
Exxaro Resources is a South African mining company that has been the main corporate sponsor of transformation at the Absa Cape Epic, if not in all of South African mountain biking. It is therefore appropriate that its name is enshrined in the trophy that is awarded to the winners of the Exxaro Development special jersey.
Exxaro introduced the special jersey race-within-a-race to the Absa Cape Epic in 2012 and the trophy two years later. Lwandiso Njara, protégé of acclaimed sculptor Angus Taylor, designed the trophy to resemble the transformation and progression of two ordinary young potential stars from the township into dedicated, victorious, mountain bikers. All the materials used in the sculpture were sourced from various Southern African Exxaro mines and include coal, iron ore and titanium. The result is a trophy that weighs in at 9.4kgs and which often gives the winning riders a surprise as they hoist it above their heads at prize giving.
The striking red Absa African Jersey is awarded to the highest-placed teams in the UCI Men and Women’s categories who meet the following criteria:
With the sport of mountain biking growing rapidly across the continent, the competition for this special jersey becomes more intense each year. The best result from an all-African men's team was fifth in 2015, which was matched in 2019 by Matt Beers and Alan Hatherly.
The Women's Absa African special jersey was introduced for the 2018 race, another step towards gender equality in the sport of mountain biking and the best performance of Absa African Women’s jersey wearers was in 2021 and 2022 where Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss claimed second place in the Women’s category.
The Burry Stander Memorial trophy, created in 2013, is awarded to the winners of the Absa African Special Jersey for the highest-placed men's team from the continent.
The trophy was created by renowned local artist Angus Taylor in dedication to Burry Stander, the former U23 World Champion, World Cup winner and first South African winner of the Absa Cape Epic. Stander was tragically killed in a collision with a taxi while training on 3 January 2013. He had been scheduled to ride the 2013 event with his Swiss partner Christoph Sauser as defending champion. Angus has, himself, completed the Cape Epic four times and has an intimate feel for the race. He used exclusively South African materials in the design of the trophy, which was inspired by a Chiwara, a styled wood-carved antelope used in African ceremonies, which, in this case, is sculpted out of haematite from Thabazimbi. The Chiwara is depicted running on the base’s rugged Matumi wood, sourced from South African watercourses.
The Hannele Steyn Trophy was created in 2017 and has been awarded to the first all-African women’s team to cross the finish line as of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic.
Hannele Steyn is the only woman to have finished every Absa Cape Epic since the inaugural race in 2004 and is part of the four Last Lions, all of which have ridden every kilometre of every Absa Cape Epic to date. The trophy touches on the strength of women at the Absa Cape Epic, and this new trophy and race is vital in promoting African cycling.
Pretoria artist, Kgaogelo Mashilo’s designed the trophy, which includes the Adinkra symbol of the Wawa Aba, the seed from wawa tree from West Africa.
Mashilo says: “The seed from the tree is renowned to be extremely hard and strong. The symbol of the seed, which is very distinctive, speaks of toughness and persistence. It is a really tough seed. I wanted to use that to show that female Absa Cape Epic riders have the same toughness of the seed”
Age is calculated as per 31 December of the year in which the race takes place. Your age group category is selected during registration.
Teams wishing to compete in the UCI category must hold a valid UCI License and must indicate this during the online registration process, and latest at on-event registration.
In order to qualify as a category, the category needs to have at least five (men) or three (women) teams registered to race. Any category with less than five men's teams and three women's teams will automatically be grouped with the next younger category. If there is no younger category, it will be combined with the next older category
No category changes can be accepted once registration closes.
No amateur category will be rolled into the UCI Men's or UCI Women's categories.
There are no age categories in the Mixed category race.
Amateur riders who are in possession of a valid UCI elite license may not race in the Amateur category and must race in either the UCI Men's or UCI Women's categories.
Prize money is only awarded to teams racing in the UCI Men's category, UCI Women's category, Exxaro Special Jersey classification, and the Absa African Men's and Absa African Women's Jersey classification.