Cape Epic 2023: Climbs, Climbs and More Climbs!

Queen Stage to include famed Groenlandberg climb


8 days. 658 kilometres. 15 775 metres of climbing. These are the stats of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic. But as history has proven –  over the past 18 editions of the race – that statistics, and what happens on the trails, are never one and the same.
The 2023 edition sees a route that route weaves through fynbos and nature reserves, skirts a lion sanctuary, moves between vineyards, orchards and wheatfields and scales some of the Western Cape’s highest and most demanding peaks. The 19th edition’s route is characterised by new routes and old favourites, including the famed Groenlandberg on the Queen Stage.
The 19th edition’s route is characterised by new routes and old favourites, including the famed Groenlandberg on the Queen Stage…
The racing kicks off with a Prologue on the trails of Meerendal Wine Estate and the greater Tygerberg Mountain Bike Club network. These trails are loved by mountain bikers for their fast, flowing nature and their views of the iconic Table Mountain and Robben Island.
Stages 1 and 2 start and finish in the seaside whale-watching town of Hermanus and showcase the region’s spectacular riding, from the Hemel en Aarde Valley to beyond Stanford and into the Akkadisberg and Paardenberg mountains where limestone trails, steep pitches and gale force winds are common.
The first transition stage, Stage 3, takes teams inland from Hermanus to Oak Valley Estate in Elgin. The stage begins on trails familiar to returning teams but swiftly enters areas completely foreign to the event. The final kilometres of the stage hint at the singletrack-filled racing to come during Stage 4.
@Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Once in Oak Valley Estate, there is a reprieve in terms of distance with the inclusion of a mid-week time trial. Though short on kilometres, it is big on metres climbed per kilometre and the punchy nature of Elgin’s terrain makes it a tough day out.  Stage 4 could prove to be pivotal in the race for general classification standings.
Stage 5, the Queen Stage, departs Oak Valley Estate in the direction of Lourensford Wine Estate and pits teams against the climb of Tierkop followed by Groenlandberg, a notorious peak towering 1 181 metres above sea level. Stage 5 is sure to be remembered for years to come thanks, in no small part, to the prominent climbs and the perilous downhill portage of Gantouw Pass, where the scars of ox wagon wheels remind us of the transportation modes of old.
The penultimate stage marks a historic day for the Cape Epic. The entire 82-kilometre route takes place within the grounds of one single estate – Lourensford Wine Estate, one of the largest and most singletrack-laden properties in South Africa. Lourensford Wine Estate plays host to the race for two nights and is sure to offer a display of mountain biking bliss.
The final stage, from Lourensford to Val de Vie Estate, is fittingly tough. Featuring two tough climbs and some of South Africa’s most iconic singletracks, the route to Val de Vie will be one of the most challenging final stages yet.  For any team wearing a leader jersey going into Stage 7 their last day will be a stressful one.

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