The 2022 Cape Epic route has been revealed and as the African summer peaks and edges to early autumn, the world’s toughest cross-country mountain biking race will take on looks like one of the most challenging in the race’s 19-year history.
Route directors scout for new singletrack year after year, vowing never to repeat a complete Cape Epic route. With the Western Cape’s abundance of mountains and wilderness, it’s not a difficult terrain puzzle to solve.
For the 2022 edition, which kicks off on the 20th of March, Cape Epic organizers have returned the race to a Lourensford start. Situated at the edge of Somerset-West and a half an hour’s drive outside of Cape Town.
Many possible 'Queens' stages
The first stage sees a loop of the Helderberg mountains, starting and finishing at Lourensford, with 92km of riding and a brutal 2850m of vertical ascent. New singletrack trails have been built in the area for the Wines2Whales stage race, which ran in excellent order during October. And these trails promise to be a highlight of the first day.
Stage 2 sees 118km, taking riders out of Lourensford to the Elandskloof area, near Greyton. Terrain will become drier and dustier, with 2,350m of climbing along the way. The Van der Stel pass is sure to test even the fittest of climbers.
Riders will ride a loop on stage 3, starting and finishing near Greyton. This area has incredible natural singletrack trails, using both traditional animal and walking routes. Despite record winter rains, the Greyton area can become very dusty towards the end of summer, and riders will have to be mindful of this for the 96km stage, which has 2250m of climbing.
Stage 4 sees a comparatively short 74km route, with only 1650m of climbing, giving riders some respite as they again loop around the Greyton area. For those riders struggling to keep pace, this could be classed as a recovery day for the week.
The Cape Epic will leave Greyton and navigate to South Africa’s mountain biking town of destiny, Stellenbosch, on stage 5. This is another long stage of 109km, with 2400m of climbing. But it promises to have some incredible descents, as riders close in on Stellenbosch, with its world-class singletrack trails.
Stellenbosch will deliver amazing singletrack
Stage 6 is a loop of Stellenbosch and although shortish at 76km, it totals 2,700m of climbing. This will be the singletrack highlight of the 2022 Cape Epic, with riding navigating through the amazing Jonkershoek valley, with its world-famous trails.
The final stage of the 2022 Cape Epic will be the shortest, as is tradition, with riders only required to roll 68km towards Val de Vie. There is still a significant 2,000m of climbing involved and some stellar singletrack sections.
In total, the 2022 Cape Epic will see riders complete 657km and 17,250m, as they race over some of the world’s most inspiring natural mountain biking terrain.