Meerendal Wine Estate, outside Durbanville, was for eight years an integral part of the fabric of the Absa Cape Epic. It served as the venue for Grand Finales and Prologues, in 2016 it even provided both the starting and finishing points of the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. After a six-year absence the race returns to the Tygerberg trails in 2023.
Not since 2017 has Meerendal Wine Estate hosted a stage of the Absa Cape Epic. Given the erstwhile frequency of visits and the farm’s access to the vast network of Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club Trails the six-year hiatus has arguably been too long. Those long years have been well spent however; new trails have been built, old favourites have been revamped and absence has undoubtedly made the heart grow fonder.
A return to Meerendal for the nineteenth edition will be a historic homecoming. Even if the race will be getting underway there in 2023. Kicking off with a punchy and action-packed Prologue which is certain to set the scene for a challenging week to come. Members of the Amabubesi finisher club will recall, the farm’s reputation for cool climate wines belies the baking heat and dusty singletracks which characterise an Absa Cape Epic visit to Durbanville.
The old cliché states that the race cannot be won on the Prologue. Which is true. Meerendal has proven that it can be lost on the opening day. South African rugby hero Joel Stransky, in particular needs no reminding of this. His 2017 crash within the first 15 kilometres of the race highlighted that a smooth and clean run through the first time trial is more important than hunting for every second.
In 2023 the iconic wine estate will host the Prologue and provide the staging point for a brief exploration of the Tygerberg Trails. Measuring only 27 kilometres in length and featuring 750 metres of climbing the first stage will be punchy and fast paced. In addition to Meerendal’s singletracks it dips into the neighbouring farms of Fair Cape and Hoogekraal. The riding highlights are the infamous Stairway to Heaven climb and the Burry Stander trail, while views over Table Bay towards Robben Island and Table Mountain provide photographic opportunities which speak of the race’s proud African heritage.
Tag(s): Absa Cape Epic