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ABSA Cape Epic Route Reveal: Brave The Untamed - An Epic action-packed 8 days




The 2024 Absa Cape Epic: It’s about fitness, mental fortitude and partnerships.


The twentieth edition and it’s test of tenacity has once again attracted the world’s best, forging a reputation as a rite of passage for all mountain bikers. The unforgiving yet breathtakingly beautiful route revealed 613 kilometres of racing and over 16 000 metres of climbing from the Prologue in Lourensford to Tulbagh, followed by Wellington and on to the Grand Finale in Stellenbosch.


Every stage will challenge, stretch and at times exhaust the human spirit. It’ll be the unkept natural beauty of one’s surrounds, coupled with the crossing of the finish line, which will power you through. Traversing the harshest terrain of South Africa’s Western Cape Province, the wild and open spaces will both test and surprise, demanding bravery, skill, intelligence and sheer grit to conquer. For the world’s most elite riders, this year’s edition provides opportunities to attack, push yourself to your limit and gain lost time. For the less experienced, it’ll be about survival. For all, it’ll be about partnership.


Having backed the eight day event since 2006, headline sponsor and powerhouse bank Absa once again fully embrace the 2024 race and the route that will challenge like never before.


"Over the years this partnership has grown from strength to strength igniting innovation and instrumental change in the sport of mountain biking, as well as having a substantial economic impact within the Western Cape region," said Absa Group Chief Marketing and Corporate Affairs Officer, Sydney Nhlanhla Mbhele.


Set to pull no punches in its 20th edition, the full field will commence with the Prologue on the manicured trails of Lourensford Wine Estate. Designed to be short, sharp and punchy, the 26 kilometre stage and 1050 meters of climbing will see teams transfer north to Tulbagh for the first marathon stages with both stage 1 and 2 set to start and finish at the spectacular Saronsberg Wine Estate.


Stage 1 is about bravery. And climbing – 2450 meters of climbing to be exact. There are four major climbs over the 90 kilometre stage interspersed with hand built singletracks that will offer a welcome reward for the uphill toils.


Stage 2 commences with a climb into the Witzenberg Valley, famed for its relentless technical trails. The 93 kilometre, 2200 meter stage is filled with rocky trails that will deny momentum, requiring mental as well as physical fortitude throughout.


Stage 3 on Wednesday morning will see the race depart the Tulbagh Valley for the Cape Peninsula of Technology’s Wellington Campus, in the only transition stage of the 20th edition. 94 kilometres with 2100 meters of climbing, teams will experience some classic Cape singletrack cut through pristine fynbos before Bainskloof pass, concluding with an unexpected sting in the tail as one heads home from the summit.


The Queen Stage of the 2024 Absa Cape Epic: This 88 kilometre, 3000 meter stage features more meters of climbing than any stage in recent years. The ascents become longer and steeper as the day progresses until reaching the clouds with South Africa’s most awe-inspiring Cliff Hanger trail. The Toyota Tough section of the day is built on Canetsfontein and part of the Imbuko Big Five Challenge, clinging to the very highest slopes of the Hawequas Mountains.


Then comes a thrilling loop through the Wild Boar Trails in Stage 5. A mix of district road and dual tracks starts the day in this 70 kilometre, 1750 meter climb, with riders then hitting the trails as they flow back-to-back along the slopes of the Limietberg and into the Doolhof Valley.


The penultimate stage of the 2024 race marks a historic day for the Absa Cape Epic. 87 kilometres, 2 300 meters of climbing, this route presents climbs across some of South Africa’s most famous wine farms as well as singletracks both uphill and down.


Having persevered thus far, cyclists will welcome The Grand Finale. The fittingly tough 65 kilometres, 2 000 meters stage features two ferocious climbs and some of South Africa’s most iconic singletracks. The majority of the day will be spent in the world-renowned Jonkershoek Valley with the course zig-zagging uphill and down, sweeping and fast, tight and technical, smooth yet rocky too, all requiring ultimate concentration right up to the finish line.


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.


2024 Absa Cape Epic Route Descriptions

The 2024 Absa Cape Epic. The twentieth edition. And a route filled with untamed challenges. One that features 16 850 metres of climbing. Packed into 613 kilometres of racing. From the Prologue in Lourensford to Tulbagh, followed by Wellington, and on to the Grand Finale in Stellenbosch, every stage is designed to test teams to the limit.


Prologue: 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: 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: 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: 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 to 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: 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, it will demand every team rises 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 it reaches 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: 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: 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.


Stage 7: The Grand Finale - 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.

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