After the thrills, and a few spills, of the Absa Cape Epic Prologue in Meerendal on Sunday the riders and crew travelled up to Tulbagh for Monday’s Stage 1.
As has become the tradition, the first stage will be a tough one. The riders will ascend 2 300m over 108km, a lot of it on rugged and rocky terrain.
This is a stage that will suit the marathon specialists and will give a good indication of riders’ form for the event.
Topeak Ergon Racing’s Kristian Hynek and Alban Lakata lost a few minutes in the time trial at Meerendal and will be hoping to get back some time off the Bulls pairing of Karl Platt and Urs Huber. Defending women’s champions Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad (Spur-Specialized) were surprisingly beaten by Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) and will also be determined to get into the leaders’ jerseys.
Tulbagh, nestled in a beautiful, lush valley, is beginning to earn a name for great mountain biking, thanks to the efforts of local enthusiasts. From the race village at Saronsberg Wine Estate, Stage 1 loops around the town in the Tulbagh bowl with more than a few trips up the slopes of its surrounding mountains. It will introduce riders to many of the new tracks in the area: watch out for The Bone Trail which is the Land Rover Technical Terrain of the day, The Labyrinth, Confucius’s Bridge and the Fairy Loop. After some early climbing most of the cool sections are between the 45km to 70km marks, but include some rugged ascents – the profile for that section looks like a set of shark’s teeth.