The 2021 ABSA Cape Epic route was tough, the 2022 route.. was even tougher. We were starting to ask, “where do you go from here?” With 177 days to go until the Tour de France of mountain biking kicks off at Meerendal Wine Estate, we have been given the untamed route that will be battled on in 2023. Just glancing at the statistics you might be inclined to think that the 2023 route will be easier (read: “slightly less gruelling”) than 2022, but we wouldn’t jump to that conclusion so fast. We’re going to break down the 2023 route and then listen to what some of the South Africa’s top performers, Matt Beers, Mariske Strauss, and Marco Joubert, have to say!
2023 ABSA Cape Epic Route Overview
So let’s take a look at the devil that hides in the details of the 2023 ABSA Cape Epic Route.
2023 ABSA Cape Epic Route Breakdown
The prologue of the 2023 ABSA Cape Epic and proceeding 3 days on paper are looking to be more manageable than the absolutely gruelling 2022 introduction. They won’t be easy, no doubt about that, and one must consider that those kilometres (vertical and horizontal) are going to be earned on terrain that is less conducive to efficient bicycle travel than what was raced in 2022. The coastal trails around Hermanus are rough and sandy and don’t forget the heat that really beat down on riders here in 2019. It will be a classic Cape Epic “warm up” that sorts the wheat from the chaff.
Stage 4 is only 47km with 875km of climbing on the Oak Valley estate, but this is a time trail and that means no watt can be spared. As far as racing goes, this is all-in. No letting the other team take the pull or hanging back to see who will go first as you near the finish. It is going to be all gas all the time on the Epic’s most physical ever time trial stage. Expect tears. At least it is only getting harder from here..
It’s Stage 5. The 6th day of racing (or just surviving). The fatigue is really setting in now and you’ve just burnt a good few boxes of matches on the time trial but the trek to Lourensford must begin. The Queen stage will be characterised by the immense Groenlandberg Climb taking riders to the highest point of the route, up above the 1km altitude mark. This monster day and the following Stage 6 will slowly erode strength and morale but there will be no reprieve until the one is crossed at Val de Vie.
Sting In The Tail
The race deciding stage is playing no games in 2023. The 2022 Stage 7 saw many riders throwing in the towel just kilometres away from the finish and in 2023 it is being turned up a notch. Lourensford to Val de Vie may just be the toughest stage of the race, taking in 2400m of climbing over the 78km transfer. A spectacular finish to the 2023 race is to be expected, much like the historical victory of 2022. An unashamedly Epic route.
What The Athletes Think This Route Will Mean For The Racing In 2023?
Well, one thing is for certain, the pinnacle of marathon stage racing will bring the cream of the crop from around the world to try and earn the illustrious Cape Epic title. While sporting slightly less climbing than 2022, we are expecting the typical Epic level of physicality, incredible scenery, challenging single track and fierce competition. We reached out to Mariske Strauss, Matt Beers, and Marco Joubert for their take on the 2023 ABSA Cape Epic Route.
Matt Beers – 2021 ABSA Cape Epic Overall Winner
Mariske Strauss – African Jersey Winner 2021/2022
Marco Joubert – African Jersey Winner 2022. Stage 5 Winner 2022
“In 2023, luxury resides within touching distance of the rugged trails. Famous wineries overlook the singletracks, offering mountain biking fans the opportunity to watch the race in comfort, witnessing the travails playing out in the Pinnacle of Epic Series. For the world’s best riders, the route provides opportunities to attack, test their rivals’ mettle, crack themselves and fight back for the honour of being crowned Absa Cape Epic champions. For the amateurs, the age-groupers from countries far and wide, expanded categories provide even more reasons to race. Or simply to fight for survival. To claw tenaciously through every metre of the race and The Trail to Val de Vie.“
What the trails of 2023 Absa Cape Epic will deliver remains to be seen, but what is guaranteed is a race for the ages. Learn more about the Absa Cape Epic route here.