2012 Cape Epic Race – Daily videos from Team Stander and Sauser

Race Coverage Video

Route Information
The dramatic new route of the ninth edition of the Absa Cape Epic, which takes place from 25 March to 1 April 2012, will be as challenging as previous years. Both local and international mountain biking enthusiasts will be taking on the demanding eight day mountain bike adventure of 781km with 16 300m of climbing from Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanvilla to Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.

The route, which changes significantly each year, will lead 1 200 cyclists through vast distances of virgin territory, previously untouched by the race. With its challenging and exhilarating landscapes, the stage locations of Meerendal,Robertson, Caledon  and Oak Valley (Elgin Valley) await the most prestigious mountain bike stage race in the world, before riders again finish at the Lourensford Wine Estate as has been tradition for the past 6 years.

Prologue: Meerendal in Durbanville – Meerendal in Durbanville
Start Venue: Meerendal Wine Estate
Finish Venue: Meerendal Wine Estate
Date: Sunday 25 March 2012
Distance: 27km
Climbing: 900m
Max Stage Time: 3.5 hours

The 9th edition of the race kicks off with a 27km prologue. It will be the fourth time in the race?s history that a short team time trial opens proceedings at the Meerendal Wine Estate on the Durbanville Wine Route, passing through protected Renosterveld. Far from just a ceremonial stroll, it will be flat out from the start ramp heading through Contermanskloof, Hillcrest and Kliprug, railing the sublime single-track in the Tygerberg Hills. On the final push on the lung-bursting climb up to the mountaintop finish, riders will be looking to spectators lining the trail for support, with magnificent views of Table Mountain and Table Bay in the background. Teams will open up their throttles for a good seeding at the official start in Robertson on stage one.

Stage 1: Robertson – Robertson
Start Venue: Robertson Primary School
Finish Venue: Robertson Primary School
Date: Monday 26 March 2012
Distance: 115km
Climbing: 2350m
Max Stage Time: 10 hours

Stage one is always a rude awakening for participants. Combining the length, climbing, severity of trail surfaces and speed of fresh-legged hares at the front of the field – all will be a shock to the system, even for the best prepared. Three major climbs will loom ahead of the athletes. The first 3km rise will be littered with loose rocks and tilting to 25%, forcing portage, and there will be a risky descent lying in wait. Hangman?s Tree will follow, which may be short, but could take up to half an hour to conquer. Beautiful flowing trails then traverse the mountain ridges, showcasing the breath-taking scenery riders have come to expect from the race. Tortoise Peak will be the third major obstacle and riders will be creeping up this slow, yet rideable 5km ascent, named after its ancient residents. Riders with bar ends will need to take care on the descent, with grabbing branches on the off-camber dual tracks. For their considerable efforts, riders will then be rewarded with a beautiful section of trails through Nama Karoo, with a few gentle rises before finally turning East, back towards Robertson with a final rocky plunge into the picturesque town.

Stage 2: Robertson – Robertson
Start Venue: Robertson Primary School
Finish Venue: Robertson Primary School
Date: Tuesday 27 March 2012
Distance: 119km
Climbing: 1650m
Max Stage Time: 9.5 hours

The route will traverse the beautiful rolling dual tracks through the stony Klein Karoo, passing through the charming village of McGregor. It will be a special day out for the riders. For those who manage to avoid tunnel vision, it will be a geologist?s paradise, with remarkable sandstone formations. Some might say this is too much fun for the Absa Cape Epic, but riders will soon be brought back down to earth as the rocks will be sharp with knife-edges shale and deluge of thorns, heavy duty tyres will be essential. Passing through Van Loveren Wine Estate on some severe vineyard hills, a district road will take the race past Ashton as they head towards the mountains for some short, but steep climbs before returning to Robertson.

Stage 3: Robertson – Caledon
Start Venue: Robertson Primary School
Finish Venue: Overberg Primary & High School
Date: Wednesday 28 March 2012
Distance: 147km
Climbing: 2900m
Max Stage Time: 11 hours

Route planner Dr Evil cites four major climbs on the longest stage in Absa Cape Epic history, with the action starting around the 40km mark. The first is a 6km dual track, where riders will fight for traction over large rolling rocks. This will be followed by a 4km mast climb, with a view over Villiersdorp. The next lump in the profile will be a smooth and comparatively easy rise to the ?Toll House?, the highest point of the day, with a fast 5km descent dropping 500m into the valley. At the 110km mark, there will be a humungous climb to scale. A sharp rise will be followed by a tricky descent, undoing all the hard work. Then starting again, from the bottom, will be a steep rocky trail where riders will be switching to their granny gears. Riders will then be able to clock up some mileage on the fast downhill district roads before the last 10km slows them down again, traversing farmlands. Riders will be welcomed to their new race village in Caledon.

Stage 4: Caledon – Caledon
Start Venue: Overberg Primary & High School
Finish Venue: Overberg Primary & High School
Date: Thursday 29 March 2012
Distance: 105km
Climbing: 2600m
Max Stage Time: 10 hours

Two major climbs jab upwards on the day?s route profile. The first is the loose, long and steep Babylonstoring, followed by the brutal, stony ascent to Charlie?s Heaven with several false peaks. Riders will be watching the weather report closely, hoping for some cloud cover to take the edge off the scorching heat. With views as far as Cape Point and Cape Agulhas it will be worth going through hell to get to the top. Danger will lie ahead on the rough, steep descent, with jagged rocks and deep ruts on this washed out road. The run into the finish will include open farm roads, fast paths along a railway line, some tight single-track through Middleton and a few hundred metres of trails in Caledon?s botanical gardens.

Stage 5: Caledon – Oak Valley in the Elgin Valley
Start Venue: Overberg Primary & High School
Finish Venue: Oak Valley Wine Estate
Date: Friday 30 March 2012
Distance: 119km
Climbing: 2350m
Max Stage Time: 10 hours

Leon Evans, aka Dr Evil, has one aim on Stage 5 and that is to get riders to that famed Oak Valley single-track as soon as possible. It will be a fast, flowing start, before heading to the fynbos-lined mountain tracks. As participants edge closer to Elgin/Grabouw, their morale will be buoyed by the striking views from the Highlands Plateau onto the Botrivier Lagoon and Kleinmond Beach. A steady 10km climb will take them through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, famous for its biodiversity and rare fynbos. A combination of new and old flowing single-track will wind through Lebanon, Thandi and Oak Valley on some unforgettable loops in apple country. However, the last few steep single-track climbs will throw agonising combination punches to the legs in the final push towards the lush fields of the race village in Oak Valley.

Stage 6: Oak Valley in the Elgin Valley – Oak Valley in the Elgin Valley
Start Venue: Oak Valley in the Elgin Valley
Finish Venue: Oak Valley in the Elgin Valley
Date: Saturday 31 March 2012
Distance: 85km
Climbing: 2200m
Max Stage Time: 9 hours

Riders should not be fooled by the distance of the stage. It will be a hard day of climbing and Nuweberg will be the first big challenge ahead with the dangling carrot of stunning vistas at the top. On the penultimate day, nearing the climax of race week, the grand old lady Groenlandberg, will appear. Deep into this highly unique and remote landscape, riders will savour the solitude of the 30km of dual tracks through this pristine Cape Nature reserve as they tackle her in two parts. The first steady rise will bring them to a rutted descent. From here the path will contour along the side of this beautiful mountain, followed by the final ascent towards the saddle, followed by yet another tricky, washed-out descent. Riders will then get to enjoy the coveted single-track in Oak Valley.

Stage 7: Oak Valley in the Elgin Valley – Lourensford Wine Estate
Start Venue: Oak Valley Wine Estate
Finish Venue: Lourensford Wine Estate
Date: Sunday 1 April 2012
Distance: 64km
Climbing: 1350m
Max Stage Time: 6.5 hours

Dr Evil has found a new way to the Champs Elysees of mountain biking, again reminding riders there will be no easy day at the Absa Cape Epic. Lourensford will await the tired athletes as they make their way from Oak Valley over Twin Peaks above the Elgin Dam, and down the ever-familiar portage section of Gantouw Pass. Extended single-track sections will then offer a final reward, before a last test of resolve ? a few steep ascents with magnificent views of False Bay and Table Mountain. Once again, Lourensford hosts the Grand Finale festivities as riders experience that bittersweet feeling at the end of the arduous, yet epic journey of the Absa Cape Epic.

You can only ride the route of the Absa Cape Epic as a participant in the race or as a member of our Epic Trippers programmes. A significant part of the route is on private land that belongs to landowners that support the Absa Cape Epic and open up their land for the race once a year. Their land is NOT open to general mountain biking and riders that trespass at any time of the year will receive a lifetime ban from riding the Absa Cape Epic. Trespassers can expect the justified wrath of landowners and the law and their names will be forwarded to the race office for us to implement this lifetime ban.

The race traverses through several sections of land which belong to MTO Forestry, Cape Nature and South African National Parks, some of these reserves are accessible to the public for mountain biking. For permits, please contact MTO ForestryCape Nature and South African Natioanal Parks directly. Stage towns and the route change each and every year. Daily stages are typically between 80 and 140km. There is always a combination of single track, rugged jeep tracks and fast flowing gravel roads, and as little tarred road as possible.

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  • John Parr says:

    This is the toughest stage race in the world, and an opportunity to earn UCI points as well. It’s known as the’Tour de France’ of mountain biking and can be followed live on http://www.cape-epic.com. It’s also the most televised mountain bike race worldwide with live coverage on days 1 and 8 and round-ups every day. Take a look at the action on Youtube, you will be amazed at just what it takes to complete this race, especially for the ordinary joes at the back. Come and have a go – if you can get in, hundreds on the waiting list.

  • Nick says:

    BTW, it was NOT at the 2011 Epic where the antelope crashed a rider off his bike.
    Just saying…..

  • Francis says:

    We hear the great ex Formula 1 racer Alain Prost is racing this year.

  • John G. says:

    Yeah Prost is doing this race- he must be nearly 60. And stupid people think race car drivers aren’t athletes ?

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