It’s going to be Epic in the Cape

2013-03-17 10:00

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For eight days, 1?200 riders will brave 698km of gruelling gravel.

By the time you read this, a total of 1?200 riders will probably have taken off at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville in the 10th edition of the Absa Cape Epic.

The arduous race – all 698km of it, with 15.65km of climbing, will end at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West on Sunday.

Among the riders are nine who are taking part for the 10th time, celebrities who are doing it for charity as well as Tony Ramatladi from Diepsloot, Gauteng, who, at 18 years of age, is the youngest of the participating cyclists.

The riders come from 41 countries, with a total of 426 participants coming from outside our borders.

Participating elebrities include former F1 champion Alain Prost, international ski champion Sébastien Di Pasqua, Olympic rowing champions Matthew Brittain and James Thompson, and retired Spanish footballer Luis Enrique Martínez García, known as Luis Enrique.

This week, Luis Enrique said: “It’ll be the first time I ride my bike eight days in a row, and in competition. Looking at the route, I thought the race would be longer, as it’s the 10th edition. I think the last two stages will be the most difficult for me. By then I’ll be tired.”

South African celebrities include former Springboks Joel Stransky, Tiaan Strauss and Corné Krige; pole-vaulter Okkert Brits; rally champion Gugu Zulu; and 2011 Survivor SA runner-up Letshego Moshoeu.

For the first time, there will be a team of paracyclists, called Team Driepoort Toyota, made up of Reuben van Niekerk and Dane Wilson.

Cyclists will also welcome the other good news, announced this week, that luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer has come on board as the official watch supplier at this year’s event.

They will present winners in each category with a designer timepiece valued at R300?000, increasing the total prize money for the this year’s edition to R1.3?million.

A 46-year-old businesswoman, Hannele Steyn, who started cycling in 1997, is the only woman among the nine riders who are tackling the Epic for the 10th time.

She’s participated in every race since the competition’s inception in 2004.

She says her training programme and diet, which consists of a lot of cycling, climbing, gym work and cross training, has sustained her.

Shan Wilson (46) who won the master’s category in 2010, is another one tackling his 10th race and so is 34-year-old Karl Platt, who was the overall winner in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

There are hilarious tales from the riders who have been there from the start, such as one shared by a conservationist with Geographical Information Systems, Craig Beech (40): “My partner during the first Cape Epic was the very first person ever to bail out of the Epic! 14km into the ride, while still climbing out of Knysna, Alberto Puddu unceremoniously lifted his foot, with the pedal still attached, to show that he had twisted it out of the crank arm.

“That was memorable, in that I think it resulted in him becoming one of the most meticulous bike mechanics I know.”

Strauss, the former Springbok player and Western Province captain who also played for the Wallabies and was part of the World Cup-winning Australian squad in 1999, is partnering with Krige, who represented Western Province in the Currie Cup, the Stormers in Super Rugby and captained the Boks between 2002 and 2004.

They will be riding to raise money for the Big Tree Foundation.

The foundation was started by race founders Victor Sables and Kevin Vermaak, with the goal being that the event should have a lasting positive social and economic impact on the communities that host the race each year.

Absa has committed to donating R1?500 for each stage the pair successfully complete, which has the potential to raise R21?000.

“Our aim is to give uniforms to 1?000 disadvantaged children in Western Cape this year,” said Strauss.

Route for the Absa Cape Epic 2013

2013 Absa Epic celebs

Okkert Brits – Pole-vaulter

Luis Enrique Martínez García – Former Spanish international footballer

James Thompson – Olympic rowing champion

Matthew Brittain – Olympic rowing champion

Joel Stransky – Former Springbok

Corné Krige – Former Springbok captain

Tiaan Strauss – Former Springbok

Alain Prost – Former F1 champion

Sébastien Di Pasqua – Former ski champion

Gugu Zulu – Rally racing champion

Letshego Moshoeu – Survivor South Africa runner-up

Cyclists on their 10thrace

1. John Gale (45)

2. Dirk Rossignol (49)

3. Hannele Steyn (46)

4. Craig Beech (40)

5. Mike Nixon (53)

6. Karl Platt (34)

7. Hendrik van Huyssteen (55)

8. Shan Wilson (46)

9. Brandon Stewart (31)

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