2021 Absa Cape Epic: Everything you need to know

Stage 2 of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic
(Image credit: 2021 Cape Epic / © Kelvin Trautman)

First staged in 2004, the Absa Cape Epic is considered the toughest mountain bike stage race on Earth, attracting the best mountain bikers from around the world competing across five categories. Referred to as the 'Tour de France' of mountain biking, it's the only MTB stage race accredited as hors catégorie (beyond categorization) by the UCI. Apart from competing in teams of two riders, what makes the race unique is that amateurs ride alongside professionals on the same route - a route that averages 700km and 16,000m of vertical ascent over eight grueling days.

Now in its 18th year, the 2020 edition of the race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduled from March to October, to accommodate the stringent lockdown protocols as stipulated by the South African government. An Olympic year and positioning at the end of a busy mountain bike season has ultimately thinned the international field for the 2021 Absa Cape Epic. 2019 winner's Nino Schurter and Lars Forster as well as many other high-profile competitors might be absent but the competition is still fierce with current UCI Marathon World Champion Andreas Seewald of Canyon Northwave MTB, 2016 winner Urs Huber (Team Bulls), 2020 UCI XCO World Champion Jordan Sarrou and women's 2021 UCI Short Track World Champion Sina Frei all present.

We've been covering the 2021 edition of the Absa Cape Epic in detail with daily stage recaps, features and pro bike deep dives, which you can scroll through below.

Stage information

Prologue: 20km and 600m, Table Mountain, Sunday 17 October
Stage 1: 98km and 1850m, Ceres, Monday 18 October
Stage 2: 96km and 2100m, Ceres - Saronsberg, Tuesday 19 October
Stage 3: 91km and 2100m, Saronsberg, Wednesday 20 October
Stage 4: 73km and 1750m, Saronsberg - Slanghoek, Thursday 21 October
Stage 5: 84km and 2900m, Wellington - Wellington, Friday 22 October
Stage 6: 90km and 2300m, Wellington - Wellington, Saturday 23 October
Stage 7: 68km and 1850m, Wellington - Val de Vie, Sunday 24 October

Race coverage

Pro bikes


Aaron Borrill
Freelance tester

Aaron is Bike Perfect's former tech editor and also the former gear editor of Bicycling magazine. He's tested thousands of bicycles all over the world. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every MTB stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. Recently, Aaron has also taken up Zwift racing and competes at the highest level of eRacing, the ZRL Premier Division.

Rides: Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg