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The women you want to watch - 2022 Absa Cape Epic

The 2022 Absa Cape Epic is just around the corner, and we cannot wait to watch the world’s best mountain bikers take to the sublime trails of the Western Cape. The 2022 women’s field is full of depth and one of the fiercest to line up for 8 days of tough mountain biking. The introduction of a major sponsor of the women’s category, CM.com, emphasises the growth and support that the women’s field needs to grow even further and we are excited to see future editions with a packed starting list. We have some exciting riders and teams who are both experienced and varying in ability. We should see some great team dynamics coming into play and some fierce battles on each day according to the route profile and which team it suits.



Speaking of the route, we can’t say it suits any of the teams over any other, and as we witnessed last year, the Ninetyone-Songo-Specialized pair of Frei and Stigger dominated on what was relatively new terrain for both of them. We don’t believe that a single team will dominate on this year's route and we should see close racing throughout the eight days, with tight finishes. But… this is the Absa Cape Epic and as we have seen many times… anything can happen.


BMC MTB Racing



The South African, Robyn de Groot is highly accomplished with numerous national titles and a world championship podium spot to her name. She has been a podium finisher on numerous stage races and her marathon and stage racing ability makes her the perfect partner for Pauline Ferrand-Prévot. Pauline is arguably one of the best female cyclists to emerge in the last 10 years with a string of rainbow jerseys in various cycling disciplines. Pauline’s decision to take on the Absa Cape Epic in preparation for her upcoming season should provide her with some solid racing miles in the bank. The pair on paper has 'winners' written all over it and with Robyn’s stage racing experience and pedigree, Pauline is in good hands. Let’s see if the two riders can bring their strengths together and create magic over the eight days ahead.


Symbtech ZA



The pairing of Ariane Lüthi and Amy Wakefield is a natural one. The two are great partners on the bike with success already this year, winning the multiday Andalucia Bike Race. Ariane is coming off a strong year in 2021 with multiple podiums, a national title and multiple marathon event wins. The pair are showing great confidence going into this year's Epic and they have shown their pairing is well matched to fight for the overall win. These two have a real shot at the title and could get stronger as the week progresses. They should be able to use each other to stay focussed both mentally and physically throughout the race.



Faces Rola



The most exciting pairing for South Africa comes with the Faces Rola outfit of Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss. The fierce rivals for many years, have joined forces and formed a dream team. The 2021 Absa Cape Epic showed us exactly why these two riders have the talent and mental fortitude to take the overall win this year. Although they were outgunned by Sina Frei and Laura Stigger, these two showed some incredible skills and gutsy riding which saw them competing for stage victories on a few days during last year’s event. The pair seemed to grow stronger throughout the eight days in 2021 and this just showed the world they have what it takes to outshine their competition. Could 2022 be the perfect storm for the Faces Rola pair after a close 2nd position in 2021?


NinetyOne-songo-Specialized



Specialized Factory Racing’s track record proves their status as the best trade team in the world, certainly when it comes to the Absa Cape Epic. For 2022, Batten and Gomez Villafane are the chosen duo in the CM.com Women’s category and the odds are certainly on their side, despite their newbie status. Batten has won the Swiss Epic partnered with none other than Langvad and has a UCI World Cup short track win under the belt. Just in case anyone was doubting her Argentinian teammate’s firepower, the 27-year-old focused her last 3 full seasons on the World Cup circuit, and she rode the 2021 Absa Cape Epic in the mixed category notably posting faster times (in certain stages) than Frei and Stigger. The pressure is certainly on these two riders to produce the results that their team predecessors have shown and we are excited to see them race.


LIV Factory Racing



Hill has posted some excellent results so far this year, podiuming at early season stage races in South Africa, continuing her trajectory of improvement each year. In 2019 she was mentored by the highly experienced Theresa Ralph in the ways of the Absa Cape Epic, their efforts earning them the Absa African Women’s Jersey in the process. She then placed sixth in 2021 riding with Looser. Now, that hard-earned experience will be passed on to Armstrong. The American is a one-time finisher, although out of the top ten, and her and the South African will have high ambitions this year. The 31-year-old has raced extensively in the Americas in long format events and we hope to see those skills transfer this year. Expect to see them dicing with team Rare Street, aiming for podium spots in stages throughout the week.


The racing begins on Sunday 20 March and you can catch all the action with live broadcasting. Follow DirtyheartMTB as we follow the racing next week.


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