What To Expect From The 2024 Absa Cape Epic Route

by | Sep 14, 2023 | Bike, Bike Course Previews, Event News, Featured

The Race That Measures All revealed its route for the 2024 edition on 14 September. With some 16 850 metres of climbing, packed into 613 kilometres of racing, here’s what lies ahead for ‘those eight days in March.’

The twentieth edition of the world’s premier stage race will cover some 613 kilometres with over 16 000 metres of climbing. From the Prologue in Lourensford to Tulbagh, followed by Wellington and on to the Grand Finale in Stellenbosch the Absa Cape Epic 2024 promises to be one for the books.

For the world’s elite riders, the 2024 edition of the Absa Cape Epic provides opportunities to attack, push themselves to their limit and gain lost time. For the less experienced, it’ll be about survival. For all, it’ll be about partnership. Here is what lies in wait for the riders:

Prologue | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epic 2024

Sunday, 17 March 2024 

Lourensford Wine Estate, Somerset West 

Distance: 26km  

Climbing: 1050m  

Difficulty: 2.5 Stars  

Opportunities await as the journey into the untamed begins on the manicured trails of Lourensford Wine Estate. In the shadow of the Helderberg Mountains, it is renowned as one of the country’s oldest and most celebrated wine farms.  Teams transfer north to Tulbagh for the first marathon stages. Stage 1 and 2 both start and finish at the spectacular Saronsberg Wine Estate, famed for its wines, blueberries and art. 

Stage 1 | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epci 2024

Monday, 18 March 2024 

Saronsberg, Tulbagh 

Distance: 90km  

Climbing: 2450m  

Difficulty: 4.5  Stars  

Bravery will be required on Stage 1. Tulbagh, once a frontier town, is still an untamed mountain biking destination. 

Four major climbs punctuate the day, including the infamous Fanti’s Pass. It’s not just all challenges and climbing though. Handbuilt singletracks, never before ridden in a race will offer a welcome reward for the uphill toils. Exceedingly tough on the way up. Scintillating on the way down. Stage 1 will be beautiful throughout.

Stage 2 | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epic 2024

Tuesday, 19 March 2024 

Saronsberg, Tulbagh 

Distance: 93km  

Climbing 2200m  

Difficulty: 4 Stars  

Withstanding the untamed and unrelenting challenges presented by the Witzenberg Valley requires endurance and skill. Stage 2 begins with an ascent from Absa Cape Epics of yore, climbing into the Witzenberg Valley. Famed for its relentlessly technical trails the valley itself might not feature an imposing amount of climbing, but do not be fooled by the profile. The rocky trails deny momentum and reintroduce the concept of inertia to all but the most skilful. The drop back to the Tulbagh Valley is no free ride. Rocky in places, line choice will be vital. Stage 2 will require mental as well as physical fortitude.  

Stage 3 | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epic 2024

Wednesday, 20 March 2024 

Tulbagh to Wellington  

Distance: 94km  

Climbing: 2100m  

Difficulty: 3.5 Stars 

On Wednesday morning the race departs the Tulbagh Valley for Cape Peninsula of Technology’s Wellington Campus, in the only transition stage of the 20th edition. Blending buttery smooth tarmac with the rugged remoteness Stage 3 is a mix of natural and manmade.  A flat run starts the day before the course gets complex with a dual-track climb into the wild. The summer sun will have slowed the waterfall to a trickle and turned Zuurvlakte into a valley of rock and sand. Teams will experience some classic Cape singletrack cut through pristine fynbos before Bainskloof Pass and an unexpected sting in the tail, do not expect a direct race home from the summit. 

Stage 4 | Absa Cape Epic 2024

What To Expect From The 2024 Absa Cape Epic Route

Thursday, 21 March 2024 

Cape Peninsula of Technology, Wellington  

Distance: 88km  

Climbing: 3000m  

Difficulty: 5 Stars 

The Queen Stage of the 2024 Absa Cape Epic, will demand every team rise to the challenge – the gauntlet laid down by the untamed. Featuring more meters of climbing than any stage in recent years, Stage 4 is defined by ascents. They begin relatively steadily, then become longer and steeper as the day progresses until they reach into the clouds with South Africa’s most awe-inspiring Cliff Hanger trail. The Toyota Tough section of the day. Built on Canetsfontein and part of the Imbuko Big Five Challenge, clinging to the very highest slopes of the Hawequas Mountains it takes a head of heights and technical skills to conquer. 

Stage 5 | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epic 2024

Friday, 22 March 2024 

Cape Peninsula of Technology, Wellington  

Distance: 70km  

Climbing: 1750m  

Difficulty: 3 Stars 

A thrilling loop through the Wild Boar Trails. Home to technical climbs, traverses and descents it is a rare day of flat-out fun, but still with a challenge or two. 70 kilometres and 1750 meters of climbing. A mix of district road and dual tracks starts the day; but once on the trails, they flow back-to-back along the slopes of the Limietberg and into the Doolhof Valley. As fatigue begins to set in, teamwork will be vital. If one is feeling good while the other suffers the gap between teammates will amplify. Wild and rocky at times, always untamed, it should be a faster day, ahead of the bus journey to Stellenbosch for the final two stages of the race.  

Stage 6 | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epic Route

Saturday, 23 March 2024 

University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch 

Distance: 87km  

Climbing: 2300m  

Difficulty: 4.5 Stars 

Teams should be warned, they will need to be steadfast in their resolve if they are to conquer the untamed in Stellenbosch. 87 kilometres, 2 300 meters of climbing. The route presents climbs aplenty across some of South Africa’s most famous wine farms. It does however also boast singletracks, both uphill and down. The trails twist and turn with berms and rollers interspersed among small drops and rises. When raising your eyes from the terrain ahead you’ll see across the winelands to Table Mountain in the distance, but do not raise your gaze for too long. 

Grand Finale | Absa Cape Epic 2024

Absa Cape Epic 2024

Sunday, 24 March 2024 

University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch 

Distance: 65km  

Climbing: 2000m  

Difficulty: 4 Stars 

The conquest of the untamed is within reach but the final stage is no free ride. Of the kilometres which remain the majority are in the world-renowned Jonkershoek Valley. The course zig-zags uphill and down, climbing one side of the valley three times and descending it in turn too. Sweeping and fast, tight and technical. Smooth in places. Rocky in others. A high traverse above familiar terrain leads to the final hurdle of the 2024 race and then you cross that finish line, you know you gave it all, claiming your spot in the book of legend. 

Absa Cape Epic 2024
Riders during stage 2 of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. (c) Wayne Reiche / Cape Epic

The 2024 Absa Cape Epic will be brutal yet beautiful with every successful finisher stronger in spirit, exhausted yet revitalised, and bursting with pride having conquered the untamed. We can’t wait to follow the action and tell the stories.

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