Share Page

SA pair seeing red … and so does a Rwandan


In recent years the Absa African special jersey has become one of the most sought after in cycling on the continent.

The distinctive red jersey is awarded to the first team with both riders from Africa to finish the Absa Cape Epic. In 2015 all-South African pairings finished the overall standings in fifth, sixth and seventh place.

The third of those three teams home was the Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock combination after their ride had been plagued by illness and mechanical misfortune.

They will be returning in 2016 as Team USN Purefit with the red jersey firmly in their sights.

“The Absa African jersey is our priority goal,” said Woolcock. “Whatever extra we collect in the process is a bonus.” Lill was a little more specific: “Our ambitions are overall podium (top three), Absa African jersey, and hopefully a stage win along the way.”

They were enthusiastic about the prospect of taking on a route containing more singletrack than ever before in the Absa Cape Epic: “From what I have seen I like it,” said Woolcock. “I’m also happy that a lot of the route takes place on familiar training grounds.”

They are also alert to the fact that in spite of the overall route being shorter there will be more climbing per kilometre than ever before: “The stages may seem shorter, but it’s sure to be challenging, as always,” said Lill.

They have formed a strong partnership over the past few years and Lill said that Woolcock’s strengths are his level headedness, his all-round consistency and his ability to “dig really deep on a bad day”.

Lill said his partner was mentally strong, supportive as a teammate and also a very good climber.

They will both be riding Cannondale Scalpel 29ers.

Another team that might fancy its chances of competing for the red jersey is the Rwandan/South African combination of Nathan Byukusenge and Thinus Redelinghuys (Team Rwanda).

Byukenge is 35 and has three Epic finishes to his name. This year he is eyeing a top 15 finish with the 25-year-old South African, who has already made a name for himself by winning national marathon series races.

In spite of the fact that they will soon be sharing eight days of pain, they have yet to meet: “I haven’t met my partner yet but I hear good things about Thinus and how strong he is,” said Byukenge. “I’m very happy to be riding with him.”

“We are working on a plan to ride together before the Epic as it is very important to know your riding partner’s abilities – where you can push him and where he can push you – so that we can get the best result together,” said Redelinghuys, adding that they might do a race or two together in February.

Redelinghuys, a marathon specialist, said it was difficult to assess their chances “since I have never raced the Absa Cape Epic and have no idea about the intensity of the race … but a top 15 finish would be amazing taking into account all the overseas riders and the best of South Africa will be competing for the top step”.

“With the 2016 Epic being my first Epic and eight-day stage race I’m expecting it to be tough both physically and mentally,” he said. “Despite the fact that it’s going to be eight days of suffering I'm really excited.”

He added that the route “looks awesome with quite a bit of climbing, which will hopefully suit me”. 

Byukenge will be hoping to finish the Absa Cape Epic for the fourth time: “It’s one of the best mountain bike races in the world – I really like the South African people and all the friends I’ve met from all over the world. They remember me, maybe because there are not many Rwandans racing.

“When we first did the Cape Epic in 2007 nobody could believe there was a team from Rwanda.  Many people thought we were still at war,” explained the Rwandan.  “We have been working hard to race at a higher and higher level, not just on the road where we primarily compete, but also on mountain bikes.”

He added: “Nine years later people in Rwanda are starting to put their children on bikes, not for work, but to become a cyclist like the members of the national team.  Coming to compete in the Cape Epic, which is one of the biggest races in the world, just shows the growth of Rwandan cycling.  There are many Rwandans living in South Africa and I hope they will come out to support Thinus and I.”



Latest News

Exxaro Special Jersey...


From the Absa Cape Epic to the Bakala Academy in Belgium

Wellington wins best town...


Towns and farmlands pivotal cogs in terms of providing an incredible route, race village and rider experience

Epic Fantasy League Winner...


Ken Van Den Bulke returns, compliments of Columbia Sportswear, after winning the Fantasy League competition

Related News

Geismayr/Rohrbach make a...


Langvad and Courtney dominate Women's category field

Absa Cape Epic favourites...


Sauser back to his best as big guns take on local races

‘Probably the most...


Topeak Ergon, Centurion Vaude eyeing top step of Absa Cape Epic podium