Cycling News

Preview: ABSA Cape Epic turns 20 with new duos and returning champs

Preview: ABSA Cape Epic turns 20 with new duos and returning champs

It’s a huge year for the ABSA Cape Epic as the cross country stage race celebrates its 20th anniversary. An A-list group of XC’s biggest names are set to line up for eight stages of big miles and massive elevation gain in South Africa. It all starts Sunday, March 17 on the grounds of Lourensford Wine Estate.

A week of Epic racing and incredible scenery is about to kick off in South Africa. Photo: Sam Clark

Crowded elite men’s field lands in South Africa

Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) is taking a new strategy as he tries to return to the top of the Cape Epic standings. The world champion and World Cup overall winner is looking outside his Scott-SRAM team for a partner in the eight-day epic. Schurter will race with Denmark’s Sebastian Fini (Lapierre Mavic Unity). While the two don’t share a team, they’re united this week in a cause. Both are racing for World Bicycle Relief, rasing awareness and, after the race, auctioning off race bikes to support the cause.

Schurter and Fini will also be trying to win, of course. But they’ll face a fleet of returning Cape Epic winners and XCM world champions.

Lukas Baum and Georg Egger lead that pack. Leatt Canyon Speed Concept Racing’s German duo won the Cape Epic in 2022. In 2023, they slid one spot down to second overall. That race was well-documented by the team. This year, they’re 100 per cent focused on reclaiming their title.

Another German, Andreas Seewald, will partner with Martin Stosek of the Czech Republic. Seewald is the 2021 XCM world champion and Stosek has shared that podium, making them a formidable duo.

Cape Epic winner in 2023 is South African locak Matthew Beers. He’s teaming up with 2018 Cape Epic winner HOward Grotts of hte U.S.A. as the always-powerful Specialized team.

All those teams, and a few more dark horses, will take on 613 km of racing and an absolutely staggering 16,850 metres of elevation gain over eight days.

Katerina Nash and Sofia Gomez Villafane supervised by the live-feed chopper during 2023 Absa Cape Epic. Photo: Sam Clark

Elite women: new teams and returning champions

The elite women’s race is shaping up to be especially interesting. Marathon world champion Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) is joining forces with Cape Epci veteran Candice Lill of South Africa. Mitterwallner and Lill finished 1-2 at 2023 XC Marathon world championships, so they have winning pace. They’ll have to translate…

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