Amy Wakefield is leading the Cape Epic with a wound you'd struggle to look at (Warning: Graphic content)
For all its marketing, splendid images of incredible vistas and happily suffering mountain bikers, the Cape Epic remains an extreme event.
When you mix mountain biking with wild terrain and riders pushing for every meter or millisecond of advantage, risks become normalised. And at this year’s Cape Epic, some of the most dramatic events have shaped in the women’s category.
During stage 1, which most riders will remember for its vicious headwinds, one of the leading women’s teams, e-FORT.net|SeattleCoffeeCo, suffered an awful injury to one of its riders.
(Photo: Wakefield warming up for a stage in the orange leader’s jersey. You can see the post-surgery wound care under her left jersey sleeve. By Dom Barnardt)
22 March 17:30
Ashley Oldfield reports on his stage 3 ride and finishing in the medical tent
Ride until Wednesday. Race from Thursday to Sunday. Those riders with a few Cape Epic finisher’s medals will tell you this is the race’s truest wisdom. And after two brutal stages, we set upon stage 3 with much trepidation and respect.
For Wines2Whales riders, parts of stage 3 would be familiar. It’s the long way around (100km) from Hermanus to Elgin valley’s mountain biking epicentre: Oak Valley. And as anyone who has ridden Wines2Whales knows, Oak Valley is a very special place, with its welcoming lawns, oak trees and many superb singletrack trails.
But getting to Oak Valley meant a lot of climbing, mostly bunched to the second half of the stage. And shortly after setting off, my partner started feeling ill. Very ill. We slowed our pace and were slightly assisted by ideal mountain biking conditions.
You must be mindful when a partner is struggling with stomach issues. It is the most affliction for Cape Epic riders. Push too hard, and you risk breaking them completely. Stop too often, for too long, and they’ll want to quit.
After we finished, my riding partner went straight to the excellently staffed and resourced medical tent for a drip. This should hopefully get him in a better state of being for Thursday.
Stage 4 promises to be a short but very rewarding loop of the greater Oak Valley area. It is the shortest stage on this year’s Cape Epic, at only 47km, with lots of flowing singletrack.
With a partner in bad shape, this will be a recovery stage for us. Before a nightmare that lurks on Friday: the Queen’s stage of this year’s event, from Oak Valley to Lourensford.
22 March 17:21
2023 Absa Cape Epic General Classification After Stage 3:
SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht – 13:32:57.7
Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum – 13:36:10.6 (+00:03:12.9)
Wilier Pirelli Factory: Fabian Rabensteiner, Wout Alleman – 13:37:55.3 (+00:04:57.3)
CM.com Women’s category:
e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill – 16:45:44.6
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 16:54:06 (+00:08:21.4)
Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 17:05:07.1 (+00:19:22.5)
22 March 17:20
2023 Absa Cape Epic Stage 3 Results:
It was a banner day for South African mountain biking on the 100km Hermanus to Oak Valley Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic, with local riders claiming stage victories in the Men’s and CM.com Women’s categories on Wednesday, 22 March.
Amy Wakefield and Candice Lill (e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo) won the transition stage in the CM.com Women’s category, while Matt Beers won the Men’s Stage 3 race alongside American partner Christopher Blevins (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne).
Lill and Beers are the reigning SA Marathon Champions, while Wakefield was the 2022 South African Marathon Champion.
The consecutive stage successes for Wakefield and Lill further cemented their overall lead in the CM.com Women’s category.
Sofia Gomez Villafane and Katerina Nash (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized) now sit eight minutes back in second place overall.
Another tactical ride and explosive finish gave Beers and Blevins their third stage win in four days. They also moved up one place from fifth to fourth in the men’s general classification.
Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne now sits seven minutes and 40 seconds behind GC leaders Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing), with Georg Egger and Lukas Baum (ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company) in second overall and Fabian Rabensteiner and Wout Alleman (Wilier Pirelli Factory) in third.
Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne - Matthew Beers, Christopher Blevins - 04:07:11.1
Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum - 04:07:12.6 (+00:00:01.4)
Wilier Pirelli Factory: Fabian Rabensteiner, Wout Alleman – 04:07:13.3 (+00:00:02.1)
CM.com Women’s category:
e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill– 04:59:42.6
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 05:02:40 (+00:02:57.4)
Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 05:08:24.7 (+00:08:42.1)
22 March 05:52
21 March 17:04
Ashley Oldfield on his stage 2 experience:
They say the true Cape Epic starts on Wednesday during the event’s weeklong schedule of suffering. But there’s no doubt that after stage 2, newbie Cape Epic riders like me are learning to respect each day. A lot.
After stage 1’s awful wind, we anticipated a less aero-trauma day. And Cape Epic organisers delivered.
Stage 2 is the longest on this year’s Cape Epic, at 113km. That’s a big off-road ride in any mountain biker’s frame of reference. But what made stage 2 so challenging was the amount of singletrack.
Click on the link below for the full report.
21 March 16:49
2023 Absa Cape Epic General Classification After Stage 2:
SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht – 09:25:42.4
Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum – 09:28:57.9 (+00:03:15.5)
Wilier Pirelli Factory: Fabian Rabensteiner, Wout Alleman – 09:30:41.7 (+00:04:59.2)
CM.com Women’s category:
e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill – 11:46:02.0
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 11:51:25.9 (+00:05:24)
Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 11:56:42.3 (+00:10:40.4)
21 March 16:48
2023 Absa Cape Epic Stage 2 Results:
There were no changes in the overall category leads of the Absa Cape Epic after Stage 2, with both the men’s and women’s leaders holding on to their yellow and orange leader jerseys, respectively, after 116km of racing on Tuesday, 21 March.
In the Men’s race, Matt Beers and Christopher Blevins (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne) won Stage 2, while in the CM.com Women’s Category, Vera Looser and Kim le Court (Efficient Infiniti Insure) took the honours.
Orange leader jersey wearers Candice Lill and Amy Wakefield (e-FORT.net | SeattleCoffeeCo) finished third on the stage and retained their five-minute gap overall at the top of the Women’s Category.
Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) remain in yellow in the general classification, now with a handy three-minute lead over second-placed Georg Egger and Lukas Baum (ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company).
Thanks to their excellent ride, Beers and Blevins jumped up from eighth to fifth in the overall standings.
Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne - Matthew Beers, Christopher Blevins - 04:20:31.3.1
SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht - 04:20:46.9 (+00:00:15.5)
Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum – 04:23:05 (+00:02:33.6) CM.com
Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 05:28:42.6
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 05:28:47.1 (+00:00:04.4)
e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill – 05:28:47.8 (+00:00:05.2)
20 March 19:51
2023 Absa Cape Epic General Classification After Stage 1:
SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht – 05:04:55.5
Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum – 05:05:52.9 (+00:00:57.4)
Canyon Northwave MTB: Andreas Seewald, Martin Stosek – 05:06:22.6 (+00:01:27.1)
CM.com Women’s category:
e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill – 06:17:14.1
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 06:22:38.8 (+00:05:24.7)
Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 06:27:59.7 (+00:10:45.6)
20 March 19:39
2023 Absa Cape Epic Stage 1 Results
Fabian Rabensteiner and Wout Alleman (Wilier Pirelli Factory) won Stage 1 of the Absa Cape Epic in Hermanus on Monday, 20 March.
The stage victory puts them in fourth place overall.
Nino Schurter and Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing) finished second on the 98km stage but moved into the overall lead in the general classification.
Defending champions Lukas Baum and Georg Egger (ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company) finished third on Stage 1 and now sit in second overall, 57 seconds behind SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing.
The CM.com Women’s Category Prologue winners Sofia Gomez Villafane and Katerina Nash (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized) seemed to battle in the latter parts of Stage 1 and eventually finished second, five-and-half minutes behind Lill and Wakefield.
For the first half of the CM.com Women’s race, the three leading teams were all together. Kim le Court and Vera Looser (Efficient Infiniti Insure) dropped off the pace before halfway, while Villafane and Nash opened up a small gap on Lill and Wakefield.
They were able to get away from the all-South African team when Wakefield had a seemingly innocuous collision with a tree. The post-race footage, however, showed that a branch had pierced her upper arm, with Lill looking on in shock. With no medics nearby, Wakefield tended to the wound as best she could and what the pair had available.
“I could see muscle and fat in the gash, but didn’t see any blood, so I just taped it up and got back on the bike,” said Wakefield.
“I actually asked Amy if she wanted to abandon the race,” said Lill.
“It was really bad, but Amy is so tough. She just took my duct tape, wrapped it around her bicep and carried on.”
Undeterred by the drama, the pair rode on, caught Villafane and Nash at 70km and then surged ahead.
“I can’t actually believe we won,” said a delighted Lill at the finish line.
Wilier Pirelli Factory: Fabian Rabensteiner, Wout Alleman - 04:01:44.1
SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: Nino Schurter, Andri Frischknecht - 04:01:46.2 (+00:00:02.1)
Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger, Lukas Baum – 04:02:05.8 (+00:00:21.7)
CM.com Women’s category:
e-FORT. net | SeattleCoffeeCo.: Amy Wakefield, Candice Lill – 04:57:46.4
NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Katerina Nash – 05:03:41.3 (+00:05:54.9)
Efficient Infiniti Insure: Kim le Court, Vera Looser – 05:08:55.2 (+00:11:08.8)
20 March 15:46
What was the Cape Epic Stage 1 like for a real-world weekend warrior? Ashley Oldfield reports back
Before stage 1 of any Cape Epic, most of the rider anxiety is about the heat. This is especially true of any stage near Hermanus, where the race had one of its most hellish days in 2019. And stage 1 of the Cape Epic 2023 is a loop around the Hermanus area.
After experiencing how talented the entire Cape Epic field is this year, with the prologue seeing us finishing a lot lower than we planned, stage 1 was about realigning expectations. And managing wind. Lots of wind.
We rode in a mixed group for most of the day’s 98km. Although the climbing total was big, at 2550m, it was bunched towards the beginning and end of the stage. But in between, there was much suffering to be had.
Click on the link below for the full report.
20 March 07:19
20 March 07:13
STAGE 1 - 20 March
Stage 1 of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic, on Monday 20 March, is a 98km rip-roaring ride around Hermanus. The men start their race at 07:00, with the women starting three minutes later.
Spectator Point A: Hasher Family Wines: Hasher Family Wines provides breathtaking views of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley as the teams race through the estate’s grounds.
20 March 06:49
2023 Absa Cape Epic Prologue Results
The 2023 Absa Cape Epic roared into life on 19 March with some explosive mountain bike racing in and around the hills of Durbanville, Cape Town.
The men’s elite race over the 27km course was won by 2021 Absa Cape Epic champion Matt Beers and partner Christopher Blevins (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne) in a time of 01:03:01.9.
Multiple cross-country World Champion Nino Schurter, riding with Swiss partner Andri Frischknecht (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) had to settle for second on the day, while 2022 champions Georg Egger and Lukas Baum (Orbea x Leatt X Speed Company) came in third, 45 seconds off the pace of the stage winners.
In the CM.com Women’s category, defending champ Sofia Gomez Villafane and her new race partner Katerina Nash (NinetyOne-Songo-Specialized) flew home in first ahead of the all-African all-star pairing of Namibia’s Vera Looser and Mauritius’s Kim le Court (Efficient Infiniti Insure).
Amy Wakefield and Candice Lill (e-FORT.net | SeattleCoffeeCo) claimed third on the day.
1. Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne: 01:03:01.9
2. SCOTT-SRAM MTB-Racing: 01:03:09.3 (+00:00:07.4)
3. Orbea X Leatt X Speed Company Racing: 01:03:47.1 (+00:00:45.2)
CM.com Women’s category
1. NinetyOne-songo-Specialized: 01:18:57.5
2. Efficient Infiniti Insure: 01:19:04.5 (+00:00:07)
3. E-FORT.net | Seattle Coffee Co.: 01:19:27.7 (+00:00:30.2)
19 March 07:44
PROLOGUE- 19 March
09:00 to 14:30
Meerendal Wine Estate Fans are encouraged to visit the Prologue race village to cheer on teams. There will be food and drinks on offer as well as various activations from the Absa Cape Epic sponsor family.
17 March 15:30
(Cape) Epic new mountain bike shoes
The Cape Epic provides a mountain bike product R&D opportunity like no other. Exhaustive stages featuring intensely rocky and dusty Western Cape terrain, test mountain bikes, their components and rider apparel. To the limit. Italian cycling shoe brand Northwave has produced a new shoe that will debut at this weekend’s Cape Epic, and it’s not only for the pros. You can ride it too!
(Photo: Different Media)
17 March 07:10
There will be a Shark on a Scott Spark at this year’s Cape Epic
Tour de France riders and winners are nothing new at the Cape Epic. Former elite echelon road cyclists have all the legacy suffering ability to easily finish an Epic. But it’s the technical mountain biking skills which can be their undoing. At this year’s Cape Epic, one of road cycling’s recent greats will be present. What are the prospects for the Shark?
(Vincenzo Nibali on his Scott Spark during a bike fit for the Cape Epic. Photo: Q36.5)
16 March 15:00
Defending Cape Epic winners now riding in South African Leatt kit
As a brand, going racing is the best way to improve your mountain biking kit and components.
Nothing tests those tyres, suspension bits and general riding apparel more than a few stages of UCI calibre racing. Leatt is renowned among downhill and enduro mountain bikers. The South African company's neck brakes, helmets and personal protective equipment is used from Cape Town to Colorado.
One mountain biking category where Leatt has been absent is endurance riding, or cross-country racing, as it is classified in South Africa. This format of mountain biking is themed most vividly by an event like the Cape Epic, which is why Leatt has become involved.
Speed Company Racing won the 2022 Cape Epic in dashing and dramatic fashion on the last stage.
Lukas Baum and Georg Egger had no support staff worth mentioning, washed their own bikes, and claimed a hugely popular win. One considered by longtime followers of the event as perhaps the best Cape Epic finish in memory.
(Photo: Leatt Orbea Speed Company Racing)
16 March 14:38
Are rugby or soccer players better Cape Epic riders?
The Cape Epic has a strong celebrity element. Each year, celebrated legends from the worlds of rugby and football participate. And their results give a fascinating insight into how legacy sports stars perform on a mountain bike.
Joel Stransky is renowned for his mountain biking ability. The Springbok flyhalf and 1995 World Cup winner has completed 11 Cape Epics, finishing within the top 100 in four of those – a very impressive performance.
But what about soccer players? They are generally much smaller, lighter and more agile than rugby players. How do they perform at the Cape Epic? One of the greatest Spanish footballers, Luis Enrique, will attempt his third Cape Epic this year.
16 March 14:38
The 2023 Absa Cape Epic will take place from 19-26 March.
This year's race will lead through the impressive landscapes of the Western Cape of South Africa once again.
The race, often referred to as the Tour de France of mountain biking, is the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI); this official UCI status makes it a highlight on the professional racer's calendar.
The riders will tackle around 658 untamed kilometres and 15.755 metres of climbing consisting of many single tracks and technical terrains.
The Absa Cape Epic also attracts aspiring amateur riders wanting to test themselves against the best. It is a full-service race, meaning that everything is taken care of from the start - all riders need to think about is riding.
The race must be completed by both members of a two-person team, with only 680 teams allowed to ride the race each year. Every edition follows a different route.