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The 2022 Absa Cape Epic is here!

The 2022 Absa Cape Epic begins on Sunday, 20 March. This is your essential pre-race guide…

The eighteenth Absa Cape Epic kicks off at Lourensford Wine Estate on Sunday, 20 March. For the first time, ever, the race’s first three days will start at the same location. This not only makes life easier for the teams taking part, but also makes viewing easier for trail-side fans at official spectator points. Fans who are unable to travel to the race will be able to tune in to the daily Live Broadcast, watch highlight shows and relive the best of the racing action on the event’s social media channels.

Route Recap

Lourensford Wine Estate, Elandskloof, and Stellenbosch are home for two, three, and two nights respectively during the 2022 Absa Cape Epic. The 681-kilometre-long route takes in 16 900-metres of climbing as it criss-crosses the Cape Fold Mountains. Starting in the Helderberg basin, the 24-kilometre-long Prologue gets proceedings underway. Stage 1, starts and finishes at Lourensford too, taking in a whopping 2 850-metres of climbing in just 92-kilometres. The first transition stage then takes the teams from Somerset West over the Hottentots Holland Mountains, via singletracks and old wagon trails, to Elandskloof.

Stages 3 and 4 explore the Greyton region; taking in challenging trails, infamous climbs and scenic kilometres of dual track. Stage 5 then takes teams over three significant mountain passes, in 115-kilometres, from Elandskloof to Stellenbosch for the final weekend of the race. In the Winelands, Stage 6 provides a challenging penultimate day; complete with 2 700-metres of climbing. The Grand Finale, on Sunday 27 March, brings the 2022 Absa Cape Epic to a close on the polo fields of Val de Vie, after a 68-kilometre-long Stage 7.

To recap on the route in more detail click here.

Who To Watch?

The 2022 Absa Cape Epic boasts a stellar elite men’s and CM.com women’s fields, as well as exciting sub-plots to follow in the NTT Masters, Grand Masters, Mixed, Absa African, and Exxaro Jersey competitions. Understandably the main focus of the cycling world is likely to be on the battle for yellow, where Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized faces off against SCOTT-SRAM, Canyon Northwave, BUFF-MEGAMO, Team Bulls, Wilier-Pirelli, Team Santa Cruz and the dark horses, DMT Racing, and the race for orange, where many of the world’s best have made their intentions clear.

Uncharacteristically Nino Schurter has already turned out at a stage race in 2022, where he got the better of Beers in South Africa’s Koue Bokkeveld. For the South African marathon champion to defend his Absa Cape Epic title he and Christopher Blevins will, just, need to be better than Schurter’s teammate Lars Forster. Though, as the reigning European XCO Champion proved in 2019, he is a tough nut to crack. Not to mention the rest of the field that is hungry for a win at The Race That Measures All.

Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized’s best hope of toppling the Swiss pairing is to use the strength of the other men’s teams against SCOTT-SRAM. If the World XCM Champion, Andreas Seewald and his Canyon Northwave partner Martin Stošek can put pressure on the race favourites then perhaps Beers and Blevins will be able to counter punch their way to overall victory.

For an in-depth look at the top men’s teams read Chapter 3 of the Official Digital Event Guide here.

In the CM.com Women’s category race the pressure is on Sofia Gomez Villafane and Haley Batten. The Specialized Factory Racing women’s teams have a perfect record at the Absa Cape Epic, largely thanks to the dominance of Annika Langvad. While NinteyOne-songo-Specialized, as the 2022 team will be known, are amongst the favourites for the competition, they are not standing head and shoulders above the field.

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and Robyn de Groot, of BMC MTB Racing, will be a force to be reckoned with. Though given De Groot’s late confirmation of her participation in the 2022 race, questions remain about the depth of the six-time South African XCM Champion’s form. The same can not be said for the 2021 runners-up, Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill. The Faces Rola team dominated their first stage race outing of 2022, in February, and Lill in particular looks to be in the form of her life. They, along with the Symbtech ZA team, of Ariane Lüthi and Amy Wakefield, will be doing their utmost to consign Specialized to their first Absa Cape Epic loss.

To read the full write-up on all the CM.com Women’s category contenders in Chapter 3 of the 2022 Absa Cape Epic Digital Event Guide, click here.

Spectator Points

Thanks to the easing of restrictions on public gatherings it is once again possible for fans to visit the Absa Cape Epic. Each stage of the 2022 race has several official spectator points, along the route, where mountain biking enthusiasts can gather to cheer the teams on. Some of the best places to see the race pass by include Helderberg Farm (Stage 1), Houw Hoek Hotel (Stage 2), Greyton Main Road (Stage 3), Genadendal Church Square (Stage 4), the Huguenot Memorial Monument (Stage 5) and Balance Coffee Roastery’s Café at Jonkershoek.

The Grand Finale celebrations, at Val de Vie, will also be open to the public this year. Along with the Absa Cape Epic merchandise store and the event’s official partner stores there will also be food trucks and refreshment stalls on the polo fields. Fans are encouraged to arrive early, settle into a good spot on the pavilions. It is important for fans to note that proof of vaccination is required in order to enter any of the official Absa Cape Epic race villages.

In order to familiarise oneself with all the information pertaining to the Absa Cape Epic spectator points click here.

Watch the Live Broadcast

This year every stage of the Absa Cape Epic will, once again, be broadcast live to the world. For fans who cannot drive from spectator point to spectator point to watch the race unfolding before their eyes the award-winning race coverage is the best way to catch every second of the action. Tune in from 11:00 on Sunday, 20 March, for the Prologue. Then join the race every morning, at 08:30, for Stages 1 to 7.

The live broadcast is available on www.cape-epic.com, as well as on Facebook and YouTube. Further insights can be gleaned from the Epic Series App, for iPhones and Android devices. There fans will be able to read the latest news, track their favourite teams and view the results from every stage of the race.

Live Broadcast Times (UTC +2)

Prologue:          11:00 – 15:30

Stage 1:            08:30 – 12:00

Stage 2:            08:30 – 12:40

Stage 3:            08:30 – 11:45

Stage 4:            08:30 – 11:00

Stage 5:            08:30 – 12:20

Stage 6:            08:30 – 12:00

Stage 7:            08:30 – 12:00

 

For all the information on who, where and how to watch the 2022 Absa Cape Epic visit www.cape-epic.com.

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