It’s been a year and a half since the conclusion of the previous Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race in 2019, and with strict measures in place to ensure the safety of all riders and event staff, The Race That Measures All is set to resume for its 2021 edition from 17 to 24 October.
Of the 300 teams competing, six will proudly wear green Land Rover jerseys in a 12-rider lineup including some fresh faces and longstanding team members of years gone by, including the most experienced team in the event’s history.
Only four riders in the world currently wear the ‘Last Lion’ badge of honour, meaning they’ve completed all previous Epic races, and two of them will ride for Team Land Rover this year. Last Lion Mike Nixon and Last Lioness Hannele Steyn have paired up for the first time to tackle the 2021 route, and boast credentials as the most experienced Epic team in history.
Land Rover is also extremely proud to have an incredibly strong ladies pairing in its team, with the unquestionably talented Mari Rabie and Hayley Preen partnering for 2021. Rabie is a decorated triathlete boasting two Olympic Games, and medals at the U23 World Championships and World Xterra Championships. Preen comes equipped with the South African National Road Cycling Champs title, and recently contested the Road World Championships in Belgium. No stranger to mountain bikes, she also placed second at the 2021 South African National XCM Championships.
Former Proteas cricket player and coach Gary Kirsten has assumed the role of unofficial team captain for this year’s race. Kirsten will ride for the fourth time in Land Rover gear alongside his good friend Andrew Finlayson. Though Kirsten’s expertise is most certainly on the pitch, he’s no stranger to the mountain bike endurance racing scene.
Kyle Brown, a former Springbok Sevens captain and Olympic bronze medalist will contest his first Absa Cape Epic alongside Clinton Mackintosh, a well-known adventure racer. Kyle made 327 appearances for the Springbok Sevens team, including captaining the side to the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Clinton is a world class Adventure Racer competing locally and internationally in the Adventure Racing World Series (ARWS), with a noteworthy achievement at the famed Patagonian Expedition Race.
Oli Munnik and Mark Pienaar form a highly experienced pairing with 15 Epics between them. Munnik, a podium finisher at the Land Rover-sponsored FNB Wines2Whales race in 2019 has 10 Epic events to his name while Pienaar, who has numerous marathon and ultra-marathon running and cycling events under his belt, has raced in five previous Absa Cape Epics.
It will be the first time out for Epic rookie Shane Poplett, but the Marketing Production Leader at Mr Price Apparel and former pro surfer has the benefit of an accomplished rider for guidance in Jeremy Thomson. Thomson, a former Springboks and Sharks player will share the knowledge gained from eight previous Absa Cape Epics with teammate Poplett.
Land Rover is the Official Vehicle and Route Partner for the Absa Cape Epic, and its vehicles were crucial in developing the race’s challenging route. Besides helping race organisers reach the remote areas the race covers; Land Rover also sponsors eight Technical Terrain sections in each of the day’s stages including the event Prologue. With names such as Bone Rattler, True Grit and Pipeline, it’s clear that the Land Rover Technical Terrains will test the mettle of riders and reward those who have come prepared.
The 2021 edition of the Absa Cape Epic will not have spectators and access to race villages, water points and other official areas will be strictly controlled. All participants and event staff must present a negative Covid-19 test before the start of the race and submit to a further antigen test during the event as an added screening measure.
©Copyright MOTORING WORLD INTERNATIONAL.
All rights reserved. Materials, photographs, illustrations and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior written permission from Motoring World International