'I thought I was going to die' | Cape Epic winner after Attakwas

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Simon Andreassen's cross-country skills helped on the loose and rocky climbs approaching the Attakwaskloof. (Photo: Ewald Sadie)
Simon Andreassen's cross-country skills helped on the loose and rocky climbs approaching the Attakwaskloof. (Photo: Ewald Sadie)
  • An overall win for Europe, as Denmark’s finest showed amazing ability in severe South African conditions.
  • All riders struggled in temperatures that would never be encountered – even in training.
  • This was the most brutal Attakwas, yet. Humbling all riders who participated.

Billed as South Africa's most challenging single-day mountain bike race, the Attakwas Extreme humbled many.

Although the 129km route from Oudtshoorn to Great Brak is always a test, especially with its 2900m climbing profile, nobody expected the severe heat.

Any Karoo mountain bike race in January will be hot, but Attakwas riders experienced temperatures of nearly 50°C. In the 06:30 start chute, cycling computers were already at 30-degrees.

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Ice water was the thing to use, at those refreshment points. (Photo: Ewald Sadie)

Riding to a win - on her own

Oudtshoorn's Yolande de Villiers dominated the women's race, finishing nearly 40 minutes ahead of her nearest rival.

"I set a good tempo early on, and Amy Wakefield came with me. But I could hear her struggling with her breathing behind me. When I asked her to come through and do a turn, she said she couldn't. I rode away on next climb and rode the rest of the race solo."

"Riding 110km solo was tough! Especially in the heat. But I just kept going, pouring water over myself at every opportunity and drinking far more than I usually do."

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For Andreassen, this Attakwas win is a great start to the season. (Photo: Justin Reinecke)

Survival riding - for everyone

There was some real Viking spirit from Denmark's Simon Andreassen in the men's race.

After his disappointment at missing the Cape Epic, the Dane showed remarkable heat adaptation to win against his South African rivals.

"I've never experienced anything like this," the Danish cross-country champion admitted. "It was the toughest race I've ever done. The course is difficult, but the temperature made it far harder." The Dane took a few additional seconds to douse himself in ice water at each water point, which certainly helped.

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There is no shade on the Attakwas route. And many riders, were carrying hydration packs and water bottles. (Photo: Ewald Sadie)

If you finished this - the Cape Epic should be fine 

Reigning Cape Epic champion Matt Beers struggled and had a nightmarish Attakwas. "I was getting dizzy and my vision was blurred. I honestly thought I was going to die. It was terrible."

Beyond the pro riders, all finishers at the 2022 Attakwas Extreme earned their medals. For those seeking a heat proofing race to prepare for the Cape Epic, the Attakwas delivered.

It was indeed a Hell of the South race. Many riders were unable to finish due to the extreme temperatures, cramps and the risk of dehydration.

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