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From the yellow to the purple to the green, the leader jerseys are a statement of superiority. Whether worn for just one stage or awarded for an overall victory, the mountain bikers who carry these on their shoulders are champion riders and deserving of great respect. The leaders’ jerseys have evolved with the race, from the initial Adidas jerseys where the zebra stripes were born, to the Craft version (that coincided with the new CI launched in 2011) and now to the pinnacle of excellence in apparel, the Assos jerseys. The core attribute of the zebra stripes has remained since the race’s inception and represents the untamed nature of the race.

Another evolution has been the opportunity for teams to wear personalised leader jerseys with their team logo adorning the front and back. This allows sponsors to be recognised when the team wear the leaders’ jersey; in 2008 fully personalised jerseys were printed for all potential winners but from 2012 the more sustainable option of ironing on team logos has been used.




Category Jerseys

There are five categories: Men, Women, Mixed, Masters (both riders must be 40 years or older on 31 December of the year of the race) and Grand Masters (both riders must be 50 years or older on 31 December of the year of the race). The category leaders are decided by totalling the time each team takes on the daily stages. The team with the lowest overall time at the end of each stage receives leaders jerseys and the right to start the next stage of the race in those jerseys.

Riders can only race for a leader jersey in the category in which the team is registered. 


Men’s category

The yellow zebra jersey is worn by the overall leading team in the Men’s category. Stage times are added up and the team with the lowest cumulative time at the end of each stage gets to wear the iconic jersey the next day. The team in yellow after the full eight days of racing is the overall winner.

The category attracts elite mountain bikers from around the world and showcases the best that the sport has to offer. Competitors have included Olympic gold medallists, current and former world champions and top-ranked marathon and cross country mountain bike professionals.

Over and above the global trend of cycling leaders wearing yellow, as set by The Tour de France in 1919, the yellow zebra jersey signifies courage and strength, and is the most visible of the colour spectrum.


Women’s category

The orange jersey is worn by the leading team in the Women’s category. Stage times are added up and the team with the lowest cumulative time in the respective category at the end of each stage gets to wear the iconic jersey the next day. The team in orange after the full eight days of racing is the winner of the Women’s category.

UCI points begun being awarded in the Women’s category from 2012 and in 2014 the Women’s category prize purse was boosted to equal that of the men. From 2016 UCI Women’s teams will start in a separate start batch after the UCI Men, which serves once again to sharpen the competition in this category. Olympic medallists, current and former world champions and the world’s top women marathon racers have contested the distinctive orange jersey.

The orange jersey represents enthusiasm, determination, attraction to excellence, and success.


Dimension Data Masters category

The race for the blue Dimension Data Masters category jersey has evolved to become nearly as fierce as that for the overall victory.

Both team members in this category must be 40 years or older on 31 December of the year in which the race takes place. World champions, ex-Tour de France riders and veterans of the world’s pro circuits have battled it out for bragging rights in this category. The winners routinely finish within the top 20 of the field.

The blue jersey symbolises loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence and is associated with inner strength and stability.


Grand Masters category

The distinctive purple jersey was introduced in 2013 and has proved to be highly competitive category, with several teams vying for the top spot. To compete in this category both team members must be over 50 years of age. The winners of this category also frequently feature in the top 20 of the field, proving that they still have what it takes to mix it up in the front.

The purple jersey symbolises mastery, creativity, dignity and intellect, and is closely associated with royalty.




Virgin Active Mixed category

The male/female combination adds a different dynamic to racing the Absa Cape Epic, and the race for the dark green Virgin Active Mixed category jerseys has proved to be strongly contested. As in the other categories, communication and understanding your partner’s strengths and weaknesses is critical to success in the mixed race. Many of the world’s top riders have competed in this category.

The green jersey symbolises balance and harmony, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart in the face of adversity.


Special Jerseys

The Absa African Special Jersey is awarded to the highest-placed all-African team and the Exxaro Special Jersey is awarded to the highest-placed historically disadvantaged South African team with both riders under the age of 26.

Both special jerseys are open to all teams that meet the above requirements, regardless of the category in which a team has registered.

If a category leader also qualifies for a special jersey, the category leader jersey will take preference. In such a circumstance, the next team in contention for the special jersey will be the custodian of the jersey and wear it in the race.


Exxaro Jersey

In 2012 the first Exxaro MTB Academy riders joined the race and became a catalyst for introducing historically disadvantaged South African’s to the sport of mountain biking. The Exxaro Jersey is awarded to the top historically disadvantaged South African team where both riders are under the age of 26. In recent years the number of competitors for this jersey has mushroomed.


Absa African Men's and Women's Special Jersey

The striking red Absa African Jersey is awarded to the highest-placed teams in the UCI Men and Womens categories who meet the following criteria:

With the sport of mountain biking growing rapidly across the continent, the competition for this special jersey becomes more intense each year. The best result from an all-African men's team was fifth in 2015.

The women's Absa African special jersey was introduced for the 2018 race, another step towards gender equality in the sport of mountain biking.


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