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Epic Fantasy League Winner Wants Amabubesi Status


Ken Van Den Bulke is no stranger to the Absa Cape Epic having participated in the race twice already – the last attempt of which was with his girlfriend in 2016. Next year they’ll return, compliments of Columbia Sportswear, after winning the Fantasy League competition.

Belgian mountain bike lovers Ken Van Den Bulke and Katja Cauwenbergh are obsessed with the Absa Cape Epic and the trails of the Western Cape. Katja is already an Amabubesi finisher and will be aiming to help boyfriend Ken become part of the exclusive club when they tackle the 2019 race next year after topping the leader board of the Epic Fantasy League competition hosted by the Bike Hub.

“This is the second year I’ve entered this competition. Last year I entered with my girlfriend (Katja) because we really love the Absa Cape Epic as well as following the race,” said Van Den Bulke. “Besides, there is always a small chance to win one of a the daily prizes. I never expected to win it this year.”

With just 70 points separating the top five contenders, winning the Fantasy League required superior mountain bike knowledge coupled with a smidgeon of luck. Ken carefully composed a list of favourites that would ultimately gift him the most points – a tricky exercise considering the harsh conditions and anything-can-happen nature of the Untamed African MTB Race. As luck would have it however, Ken’s biggest competition came in the form of his partner, Katja, who finished in second place just 45 points behind.

“It helps that we (Katja and I) know a lot about the riders and their form, and can estimate how good they are,” said Van Den Bulke. “Katja was a very good help in this regard, but you also need a lot of luck on your side because if one of your combinations happen to drop out like Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann – you immediately lose 100 possible points.”

Both Ken and Katja have a soft spot for the Absa Cape Epic, South Africa and the Western Cape region as a whole having participated in a host of other races in and around country over the past few years.

“We like stage races and good weather not to mention awesome trails and mountains – we have also done some other nice races in South Africa. It’s a beautiful country, and the people are very friendly. Besides, when it’s our (European) winter, it’s the perfect summer holiday for us.”

Asked about their goals for next year and if they’re eyeing a podium finish in the Virgin Active Mixed category, Ken had the following to say:

“Well, first of all the goal is to enjoy the race but I’d also like to become an Amabubesi member. If my training works out well – a podium is also a goal (I finished fourth with Katja in 2016). We will take it step by step and hopefully the winter here in Europe is milder than usual, so we can train as hard as we can.”

While next year’s route is yet to be revealed Ken remains excited about what lies ahead and expects the route to be rough and tough – just like he remembers it.

 “I love the trails in the Western Cape – they are of a very high quality and can be tricky. In the 2016 Absa Cape Epic we had so many lovely trails and I hope 2019 brings us the same. I expect it to be a rough and tough course, and untamed!”

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