Cape Epic MTB Challenge

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Absa Cape Epic

Gear up to conquer some of the Cape’s most challenging trails in one of the world’s most arduous mountain biking races

Billed as the ‘Untamed African Mountain Bike Race’, the 2017 Absa Cape Epic is nothing short of what its name suggests: epic!

This incredible test of endurance sees some of the world’s most elite professional and amateur riders traverse across 691-km of some of the most beautiful and unforgiving routes in the Western Cape, with an accumulative vertical gain of 15 400m. This annual event will pedal off on Sunday, 19 March after a prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate and come to an end on Sunday, 26 March 2017 at Val de Vie Estate in Franschhoek. The route will take intrepid adventurers and cyclists through stinning Western Cape towns such as Hermanus, Elgin and Greyton.

Now in its 14th year, the demanding competition holds fast to its Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) status as ‘Hors Categorie (beyond categorisation)’ – it was the first ever team mountain bike race to achieve this.


THE TECHNICAL STUFF: The eight-day escapade sees 650 teams of two (1300 riders), in five different categories – men, women, mixed, masters (40 years or older) and grand masters (50 years or older) – traverse roughly 691-km (at a total vertical gain of 15 400m).

NEW ROUTES: Committed to providing riders with a unique experience, the race organisers devise a new route each year, leading the 1300 riders up strenuous rocky climbs, over dusty gravel paths and magnificent river crossings, along forested singletracks and down thrilling, technical downhills. For the first time in eight years, the first stage of the race will head back to the stunning coastal town of Hermanus. From there, cyclists will head over to Greyton, then Elgin, and finally to Franschhoek for the grand finish at Val de Vie Estate.

PIT STOPS AND SCENERY: This year the arduous competition takes mountain bikers through virgin territory across the Western Cape. Teams kick off their week-long adventure with a 26-km time trial at the Absa Cape Epic Prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate, after which they will cycle around the Western Cape over the next seven days, stopping in various towns and at multiple farms.

AFTER EACH STAGE: Teams must stay together at all times (there are penalties if two members are more than two minutes apart at any race stage), and the cut-off time for the race varies from stage to stage. The winners of each leg of the race will be given prize money and prizes at the end of the day, and leaders in the overall classification are awarded leader jerseys.

THE FINISH LINE: As always, the Absa Cape Epic ends off with as much – if not more – of a bang than it starts with. Spectators can welcome the weary riders at the final stage of the route at the finishing line at the Absa Cape Epic Grand Finale at Val de Vie Estate.

EPIC LOUNGE AT THE GRAND FINALE: This year you can experience premium hospitality at the Epic Lounge. This luxurious space is the perfect spot to cool off and watch the cyclists cross the finish line with gourmet food and drinks, a live TV broadcast and a programme of events that will keep you entertained throughout the closing day of the event. Ticket prices are yet to be confirmed.

SPECTATOR INFORMATION: Whether you’re keen to see what the Absa Cape Epic is all about or simply want to cheer on your favourite rider, the spectator guide on the Absa Cape Epic website has all the rules, regulations and information you need to safely urge on the participants. While fans are encouraged to support the teams, spectators are urged to obey the marshals at all times and not to assist any of the riders taking part in the race (simply holding the bike while the rider pumps up a flat tyre can earn them a penalty).


Registration for the next race will take place in March 2017, and a venue to be confirmed. If you fail to register you will lose your entry into the race. Everyone MUST be registered by 2pm; NO late registrations will be allowed.

Riders need to register as a team, and each member of a pair must bring along a form of photo identification (ID or passport). Teams will receive their race packs with all the information they need regarding the race as well as their rider bags and participation shirts. Participants have the opportunity to drop off any bags or bike boxes, both of which will be securely stored for the duration of the race and will be made available for collection at the finishing line.

At the registration venue, riders can watch the race briefing video, but it will be made available on their website as well.


The mountain bike race is limited to 1300 participants each year and due to its popularity spaces fill up well before race day. Early Bird and Lottery Entries are your best bet for nabbing a coveted spot, but there are still a few ways to guarantee a spot in the race. You can enter the race via one of the charities (at a cost), or better still, join the volunteer programme to get a feel for the event and guarantee an entry for the 2018 Absa Cape Epic.

Eager participants looking to enter the 2017 event will need to keep their fingers on the pulse as early bird entries sell out within minutes.

The full entry (R67 900 per team) must be paid immediately to secure a spot. For more information on how to register, go to



On a first-come, first-served basis. Only 100 of these entries for the next year’s race are made available the day after the race finishes (opens at 3pm on Monday, 21 March 2016).


The bulk of the entries are allocated via a public lottery process (closes on Saturday, 28 May 2016).


The international team entry fee applies to all riders without an SA ID number. The lottery opens immediately after the Early Bird entries sell out, and closes on Saturday, 28 May 2016. 


Support a worthy cause and race the Absa Cape Epic. Partner charities are assigned a certain number of race entries, which they then sell at an increased fee.


A limited number of entries are available on request to journalists who wish to experience the race first-hand.


Absa Cape Epic volunteers receive a guaranteed entry to the following year's race.


Reserved for top UCI registered riders and allocated to riders at our discretion via the UCI rider application process.

Exxaro Bursaries

Our official Development Academy Partner, Exxaro, offers a limited number of complimentary entries, at their discretion, to teams where both riders are previously disadvantaged South Africans under the age of 26 years.


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