Germany's Karl Platt (left) and Switzerland's Urs Huber, of Team Bulls, start of the prologue of the 2017 ABSA Cape Epic in March. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

JOHANNESBURG - Marking its 15th year, the Cape Epic’s start will return to Table Mountain and include a time trial before culminating in a tough finish at Val de Vie Estate.

Taking place from 18-25 March, the Epic will see local and international mountain bikers from around the world line up for the race through the scenic Western Cape.

The route for the 2018 edition of the gruelling stage race was unveiled in Sandton on Tuesday and will cover 658km, including 13 530m of climbing.

For the first time since 2010, the race includes a time trial that will follow four consecutive stages of over 100km.

Five-time champion Karl Platt of Germany rubbed his hands with glee over the prospect of racing a route he is all too familiar with.

“I like to race more on the north side of the Cape and I also like to race around Wellington because I train there a lot, it is like my home ground,” Platt said.

“It looks like the first few days are very long and I hope that suits the marathon riders like us.”

Following tradition, the route changes every year and for the first time since 2015, the prologue will be on Table Mountain.

The Epic will visit Robertson, Worcester and Wellington, and finish at the Val de Vie Estate in the Paarl-Franschhoek Valley.

Riders will spend three nights in Robertson for the first three stages, with a transition stage to Worcester.

In Worcester, they will stay for one night before settling down in Wellington before heading to Val de Vie which will be the venue for the Grand Finale for the next five years.

London 2012 Olympian Phillip Buys and Matthys Beukes will return next year to launch another attempt to return the Epic title to South African hands.

The late Burry Stander was the last South African in the men’s category to win the title with Swiss partner Christoph Sauser back in 2012.

Buys, a three-time stage winner, has won the African jersey on three occasions and is hell bent on getting his hands on the overall title.

This year Buys and Beukes finished seventh overall and won the red jerseys awarded to the first team in which both riders are from Africa.

“It is a dream for us to win it overall and it is defiantly something we are working towards if you look at our performances and not necessarily our results,” Buys said.

“We access what we’ve been doing over the last few years and there is progress, so our goal is definitely aiming higher.”

In an attempt to raise the profile of women’s cycling, the organisers announced that the first all-African team home in the female category will be presented with the Hannele Steyn Trophy at the Grand Finale at Val de Vie.

Steyn won the women’s category in the second Cape Epic in 2005 riding with South African Zoe Frost and is also one of just four riders to have finished all 14 Cape Epics so far.

The Star

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter