Organisers of the Cape Epic unveiled the official route for the 2018 edition of the eight-day event at a press conference held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg today.
The route will start at Arabella Wine Estate in Robertson before ending at Val de Vie Estate 658km later.
This year’s event, which starts with a 20km prologue from University of Cape Town, will feature a time-trial for the first time since 2010. This will include 39km of racing and more than 1 400m of climbing and take place in and around Wellington.
“The last Cape Epic to feature a time trial was in 2010,” said race director Kati Csak.
“We’ve reintroduced it this year to change things up and also to give the leading racers an opportunity to attack their rivals. If a team had managed to secure a decent lead by this stage they would normally simply mark their rivals’ attacks, but you can’t do that on a time trial.”
It comes directly after the queen stage, a 111km journey with 1 800m of grueling ascent which starts and finishes at Huguenot School, two days after the longest stage. Stage three will throw more than 120km of racing and 1 800m of climbing at riders who make it that far.
Riders will visit Robertson, Worcester and Wellington, and finish at the Val de Vie Estate in the Paarl-Franschoek Valley during their 2018 adventure.
In a break with tradition, the final stage of the Epic will not be the easy day it has been in the past, taking riders from Wellington to Val de Vie over a testing 70km with 2000m of climbing.
This year’s Exxaro champions William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona were present at the launch and shared their thoughts on the announcement.
Mokgopo, having had his first glimpse of the route, said he felt the initial few days would be a true test of grit and skills.
“This looks like the first few days are going to be very long and very challenging so good luck to everyone doing it this year,” he said.
African red jersey winner Buys said he and Beukes would race with the top step of the podium as the ultimate goal.
“It’s a dream for us to win the overall and it’s definitely something we’re working towards. If you look at our results over the years there is progress,” he said.
“We’re always going into Epic with higher goals, there’s no point going just for the African jersey.”
“I think it looks fantastic. For those who have never done it before I think the terrain is going to be very varied and those few opening days will separate the guys who are under prepared from the guys who know what they’re doing.
“The first three opening stages, where are each over 110km, will set the tone for the event and create a good pecking order.”
Organisers took the opportunity to also announce the introduction of the African women’s trophy, named after the only woman to have completed every Cape Epic since it’s inception – Hannele Steyn. The trophy will be awarded to the top African woman’s team.
Watch route launch video here: