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Epic returns to Worcester

The Absa Cape Epic will once again bring world-class riders to Worcester.

The 2018 route has been revealed last week, and the first stages will include some challenging sections in the Robertson and Worcester districts.

Next year’s Epic, to which mountain bike riders across the globe aspire, will cover a total distance of 658 km across and was designed to be “balanced and bold”.

The prologue on 18 March will kick off at Table Mountain, from where riders will travel to Robertson, Worcester, Wellington and finally Val de Vie Estate.

Stage 1 will be a 110 km ride around Robertson with climbing of 1 900 m. The first stage of the Epic is always a challenge, according to the organisers. Robertson is known for its rocky terrain and the Takkap Climb (which is the biggest challenge of the day) will come into play just before halfway. Riders will also undergo a few testing climbs through the Elandskloof Reserve.

Stage 2 will be another Robertson route: 110 km with 2000 m climbs in total. This stage is described as a 10-round world championship boxing match because of a series of climbs that will challenge even the most experienced rider.

Stage 3 from Robertson to Worcester will entail 122 km in distance and 1 800 m in climbs. This stage will be the longest stage of the Epic albeit not the most challenging in terms of terrain. Riders are warned to look after their tyres as Worcester is known as thorn country.

Stage 4 from Worcester to Wellington will be a 111 km ride with 1 800 m of climbing. Known as the tough stage, it will include two of the toughest climbs of the competition.

In Stage 5 the Wellington route will be the location for a time trial event of 39 km, in which riders will be in top speed mode.

Day Six will feature a 76 km route around Wellington with 2 000 m climbs. The downhills and one big climb at 58 km, not far from the finish line, will earn the day the “fun” label.

The last day will take riders to Val de Vie Estate, but will still require hard work for a strong finish.

“There are some days that will suit the strong climbers, others that will play into the hands of the skilled technical riders,” says race director Kati Csak. “Some days will favour riders able to grind it out for hours on end, but those with more explosive power will also be eyeing stages where they could strike. We believe that the route team designed a very well balanced ride.”

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