718 kilometers, 14850 meters in altitude, 600 teams of two, countless red tents and lots of fun off-road: That is the Absa Cape Epic. You become aware of this shortly after your arrival. The race has been held in South Africa in March for eleven years and is now considered the well-known stage race for mountain bikers. It is not for nothing that the Absa Cape Epic is also called the Tour de France of MTB sports. The starting places are correspondingly highly coveted and a large part of the world's best are also at the start. It starts with José Antonio Hermida and extends through Christoph Sauser to reigning XC World Champion Nino Schurter. If you want to be there, you should be quick or bring a large portion of luck. Within a few seconds, all directly available starting places are sold out. However, the majority of the starting places will be raffled and a smaller part will still be awarded through invitations.
After some back and forth, my brother Sebastian and I were lucky enough to get a starting place for the 2014 edition. No cheap pleasure. The entry fee alone is 1750 euros per person. After all, accommodation in a tent, food, bag transport and a few other little things are included. You have to organize the rest yourself. in the huge Race Village you can buy almost everything you need for the race. Interesting: It is recommended to carry the credit card with you during the race.
After a few days of acclimatization in the warm South African autumn, the prologue finally started yesterday morning. Our launch was set for 9:04 local time. Not a bad time to sleep in. The prologue was held as a two-person team time trial. The first had to leave at 6:45 am. Since all amateur riders start only 25 seconds apart, this was actually the best time, because you still had free time to fully enjoy the 24 kilometers. Unfortunately we were less fortunate. Quite often we got stuck in traffic and had to take it easy on the trails. However, most of the drivers who started ahead of us were very friendly and were happy to give way when asked. Since the single trail portion of the Epic is very high, that was also necessary. With free travel you could dreamlike flowy enjoy descents. The climbs here are quite steep, but easy to ride and mostly rather short.
Today the route will be significantly longer and after 30 kilometers of rolling on the flat, great descents and crisp climbs will surely follow again. The starting order depends favorably on the daily result of the prologue. However, a lot of rain is announced, which is probably accompanied by a decent risk of slipping. Let's see.