The Cape Epic is a 8 day mountain bike race, covering around 722kms through South Africa and tackling over 16,000m of climbing through the beautiful hills of the Western Cape. Competing in the race are both amateur and professional riders who race in teams of two, with both riders having to stay together at all times. This year saw 1172 racers lining up on the start line to pit themselves against the tough course, which promised strenuous rocky uphills, technical downhills, difficult river crossings and plenty of stunning forested single track.
This year’s race was won by the German Bulls team of Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm who amazingly count this as their third victory here, with previous wins in 2007 and 2009. Karl Platt also won the inaugural race in 2004 as part of a different team. With a finishing time of 29 hours, 47 minutes and 46 seconds for the 722km course, that gives a staggering average speed of just over 24kmph or 15mph.
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Sahm said, “It’s an incredible feeling, words can’t describe it. It means so much to Karl and I. We arrived at the race as the defending champions and we successfully guarded our title. I had problems with my chain today and had to change it. It was nerve-wrecking. We enjoyed every second and every meter of the last few kilometres, and who knows, maybe we can do it again next year.”
Sahm and Platt also host a party at the end of the Absa Cape Epic, known as Stage 9, which Sahm described as, “always the most fun for everyone. It’s the party stage after a very hard race. Here we also need to defend our titles of the last men standing,” adding with a chuckle “we can ride and party hard.”
The Danish sisters Kristine and Anna-Sofie Noergaard from team Rothaus-CUBE won the ladies category, finishing in 37:31.03,3, having also won five of the eight stages. Kristine said, “It feels fantastic to finish the race and also to have won. South Africa and its people have been fantastic. The course this year was great,Â still tough but not as bad as we expected. Tonight we really want to celebrate and hope we still have some energy to do so.”
Taking the honors in the mixed category were Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes from MTN Business Qhubeka who won their category in an overall time of 34:29.32,3. Yolande commented that “I can’t wait to get some resting off the bike and look forward to the celebrations tonight.”
The Cape Epic was shaken by tragedy this year when 26 year old James Williamson passed away during the night after stage 2. James was the editor of the Australian Enduro mountain bike magazine and the and winner of the World Solo 24 hour mountain bike Championships in Canmore, Canada in 2008. Sonja GÃƒÂ¼ldner-Hamel, international media director of the Cape Epic, said: “James was a very enthusiastic mountain bike journalist who had expressed interest to ride the race over the last few years. 2010 was the year that he could fit it into his publishing schedule and he was thrilled to finally be participating in the race. After yesterday’s Stage 2 through singletrack paradise he was all smiles, repeatedly expressing how he enjoyed yesterday’s route. He’ll be deeply missed in the mountain biking media fraternity.”
James’s death has been attributed to an undiagnosed, genetic heart condition and was nothing to do with his riding or training. Our thoughts go out to all James Williamson’s friends and family.
The full results can be found at the official Cape Epic website: http://www.cape-epic.com
Topeak-Ergon riders Alban Lakata (above) and Sally Bigham both placed third in their respective categories.