The Absa Cape Epic’s route is one of life’s ever-changing constants. No two editions have been the same and that tradition holds true for the 2022 edition of the Untamed African MTB Race. Riders from around the world got to experience one of the the most gruelling, unrelenting and untamed routes in the races 18 year history. From March 20th till March 27th Team Bikehigh conquered 8 days of action.
8 days, 681 kilometers and 16,900 meters of climbing accompanied by extreme heat, have pushed the riders to their limits. The challenge started in Lourensford Wine Estate, before traversing the Hottentots Holland Mountains to Elandskloof. After two stages of rugged riding on the trails of Greyton, the race heads towards the mountain biking mecca of Stellenbosch. This was the Absa Cape Epic 2022 route for the Mix Bikehigh Team with Jasper Lefevre and Karen Steurs.
What does it take to complete South Africa’s legendary Cape Epic? Maybe one of the most asked questions, as the race is often billed as the “Tour de France of mountain biking.” Like the grand tour, it is a stage race that combines stunning scenery and pomp with long, grueling days and devious climbs. It’s a celebration of a nation, taking place across South Africa, and the most-watched race in its discipline. In short: The Cape Epic is breathtaking and allows you to elevate your daily MTB skills, your perseverance and skills as a team player, as there are strict rules to ensure that teammates stick together.
The 2022 Absa Cape Epic will go down as one of the most exciting editions of the race! The women’s race saw a three-way battle for stage wins and the strongest South African presence in many years, while the men’s race saw seven different teams win stages and a dramatic, successful final-stage GC title chase by a popular underdog team.
Team Faces Rola concquered the final Cape Epic stage. The South African pair of Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill battled with NinetyOne-Specialized-Songo all week and Sunday’s stage was no different. For the Grand Finale, though, the Faces Rola found a way to take the stage win. Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez-Villafane crossed the line second on Sunday, but with the elation of winning their first Cape Epic as a team. Faces Rola secures second overall. Team BMC’s Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Robyn de Groot took third.
On the men’s side, a storm was brewing. Canyon Northwave’s Andreas Seewald and Martin Stosek led for much of the week, carrying the zebra jersey’s through aggressive racing early on. By Saturday, cracks were showing in the duo’s armour. Speed Company’s Georg Egger and Lukas Baum took note, and looked to take advantage on Sunday.
The German pair had help in their quest to take down Canyon Northwave. Nino Schurter and Lars Forster (Scott-SRAM) and Maxime Marotte and Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz) were two top teams hunting for the late glory of a stage win. With Speed Company, the six riders pushed the pace all Sunday and quickly put Canyon Northwave in trouble.
As the lead group’s advantage grew, and Speed Company moved into the virtual lead on G.C., Egger and Baum, buoyed by the prospect of Cape Epic overall victory, went on the attack. The pair dropped the distinguished Scott-SRAM and Santa Cruz teams, never letting the pace slow enough that Canyon Northwave could recover.
With an incredible late-race surge, Speed Company takes the final stage win of the 2022 Cape Epic and, with that, wins the Cape Epic overall. Canyon Northwave are forced to settle for second. Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized’s Matt Beers and Christopher Blevins took third.
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