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48 countries in the 2018 Absa Cape Epic

2017-07-21

They’ll be bringing their bikes to the 2018 Absa Cape Epic from Bermuda, Latvia, Thailand, Uruguay, China … and many more.

The entries are in and 48 nations will be represented among the many riders on the Absa Cape Epic start line in March 18, 2018.

And half of those will be taking on the Untamed African MTB race for the first time.

Frenchman and two time Xterra age group world champion Benoit Lalevee is one of the foreign legion who is also a newbie. So why is he coming to Africa: “The Absa Cape Epic is the Mecca of mountain bike racing,” he says.

The USA’s Jon Luca Del Fante says his decision to enter for the first time “sounded like a good idea … after a few brandies”.

Spanish newcomer Xavier Fiego Diaz explains: “Because it is the race I dreamed about doing all my life … the best MTB race in the best landscape and terrain.”

South Africa’s Anton van der Westhuizen is in a slightly different category – he will be seeking a first finish after becoming one of several victim’s of 2017’s notorious – and blisteringly hot – Stage 1: “I’ve got a bone to pick due to last year’s Stage 1 obliterating the field, including yours truly… .”

Accomplished rower, German former Olympian Lars Wichert, has a poignant motivation for his second Cape Epic: “Because I cycle this race for my friend who died. He was an enthusiastic cyclist and really wanted to compete with me at this race.”

As does South Africa’s Martinus Geldenhuys, who is raising money to assist the parents of his autistic nephew with their medical expenses.

Another South African, Chris Norton, will be back and aiming for finish number four. What motivates him? “Having survived being hit from behind by a motor car and thrown 60 metres, numerous amounts of surgery and still being alive to finish the Cape Epic and tell the tale.”

South Africa’s Michelle van Aswegen, is going for her second finish: “I would like to inspire moms (and show) that it is achievable to work, ride and have a family. I was extremely unfit when I had my daughter but she has inspired me to get fit and healthy again and have fun.”

Then there are those striving to make the Amabubesi Club for three-time finishers. Chak Sing Cheng, the first Chinese rider to take part in the event, will be back in an attempt to join the Club and will be partnered by first-timer Ying Ling. “We call the Cape Epic the ‘Tour de France of mountain biking’ in our country and many riders want to do this race,” says Cheng.

On the other end of the scale is KZN’s Joyce Benade, aiming to finish her 12th Absa Cape Epic. Asked why she keeps on coming back, Joyce simply says: “Well, my friend Kevin always said I am either brave or stupid …”.

And former winner, Olympic gold medallist Bart Brentjens will be back to race “the best mountain bike stage race in the world” for the 13th time.

But the last word should surely go to Hannele Steyn, one of only four people who have finished all 14 events – the Last Lions – and who will be back on the start line in 2018: “After my first Epic in 2004, it’s become a drug and one of my most amazing life and sporting experiences.”

 

 

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