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Into the valley

By Cape Epic, 03/15/16, 5:15PM HST


After two days of fascinating racing around Tulbagh the Absa Cape Epic will move to Wellington and some very different conditions on Wednesday. The Tulbagh area has been dusty, rocky and loose – a test for rider and his or her bike.

But before they hit the smoother conditions and compacted soil of Wellington the riders will have to take on a rugged climb out of Tulbagh on the Waterval climb, a rocky descent off it and then the Zuurvlakte – a pan fringed by mountains that looks like it belongs in a Western movie and which could be sandy in parts. The Zuurvlakte reserve was only just opened late last year after devastating fires (but which did have the effect of regenerating the fynbos and Proteas).

A little while after that it is on to the tar and the long climb up the Bain’s Kloof Pass, a national monument, before a twirl around the highly-regarded Welvanpas trails near Wellington. Riders new to the Welvanpas network will get a rude introduction to the WTF? climb and some sharp ascents, but will also get to enjoy weaving descents such as the breathtaking Super G.

Transition stages are generally quite long and difficult and at 104km with 2150m of accumulated ascent this one should prove to be no exception.

Expect some attacks on the early slopes: this may well be a stage where teams who are further back than they had hoped will look to attack.