The Star Late Edition




MEERENDAL WINE ESTATE, DURBANVILL­E, CAPE TOWN 27km with 900m of climbing The ninth edition of the race kicks-off with a 27km prologue. Far from just a ceremonial stroll, it will be flat out from the start ramp heading through Contermans­kloof, Hillcrest and Kliprug, railing the sublime single-track in the Tygerberg Hills.

Stage 1

ROBERTSON TO ROBERTSON 115km with 2 350m of climbing Stage one is always a rude awakening for participan­ts. Three major climbs will loom ahead of the athletes. The first 3km rise will be littered with loose rocks and tilting to 25percent, forcing portage, and there will be a risky descent lying in wait. Hangman’s Tree will follow, which may be short, but could take up to half an hour to conquer. Tortoise Peak will be the third major obstacle and riders will be creeping up this slow, yet rideable 5km ascent.

Stage 2

ROBERTSON TO ROBERTSON 119km and 1 650m of climbing The route will traverse the beautiful rolling dual tracks through the stony Klein Karoo, passing through the charming village of Mcgregor. It will be a special day out for the riders. But riders will soon be brought back down to earth as the rocks will be sharp with knife-edges shale and deluge of thorns, heavy duty tyres will be essential.

Stage 3

ROBERTSON TO CALEDON 147km and 2 900m of climbing Route planner Leon “Dr Evil” Evans cites four major climbs on the longest stage in Absa Cape Epic history, with the action starting around the 40km mark. The first is a 6km dual track, where riders will fight for traction over large rolling rocks. This will be followed by a 4km mast climb. The next lump in the profile will be a smooth and comparativ­ely easy rise

March 25-April 1, 2012

to the “Toll House”, the highest point of the day, with a fast 5km descent dropping 500m into the valley. At the 110km mark, there will be a humungous climb to scale. A sharp rise will be followed by a tricky descent. Then starting again, from the bottom, will be a steep rocky trail where riders will be switching to their granny gears.

Stage 4

CALEDON TO CALEDON 105km with 2 600m of climbing Two major climbs jab upwards on the day’s route profile. The first is the loose, long and steep Babylonsto­ring, followed by the brutal, stony ascent to Charlie’s Heaven with several false peaks. The run into the finish will in- clude open farm roads, fast paths along a railway line, some tight single-track through Middleton and a few hundred metres of trails in Caledon’s botanical gardens.

Stage 5

CALEDON TO OAK VALLEY 119km with 2 350m of climbing Dr Evil has one aim on Stage 5 and that is to get riders to that famed Oak Valley singletrac­k as soon as possible. It will be a fast, flowing start, before heading to the fynbos-lined mountain tracks. A steady 10km climb will take them through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve but the last few steep single-track climbs will throw agonising combinatio­n punches to the legs in the final push towards race village in Oak Valley.

Stage 6

OAK VALLEY TO OAK VALLEY 85km with 2 200m of climbing On the penultimat­e day, nearing the climax of the race week, the grand old lady, Groenlandb­erg, will appear. The first steady rise will bring them to a rutted descent. From here the path will contour along the side of this beautiful mountain, followed by the final ascent towards the saddle, followed by yet another tricky, washed-out descent.

Final stage

OAK VALLEY TO LOURENSFOR­D 64km with 1 350m of climbing The Champs Elysees of mountain biking, but no easy day. Lourensfor­d will await the tired athletes as they make their way from Oak Valley over Twin Peaks above the Elgin Dam, and down the ever-familiar portage section of Gantouw Pass. Extended single-track sections will then offer a final reward, before a last test of resolve, with a few steep ascents awaiting riders set to the backdrop of False Bay and Table Mountain.

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