Cape Epic organizers announced the route for the 2010 edition of the South African mountain bike stage race, scheduled for March 21-28. The race will start at a new location and visit new towns Dimersfontein, Ceres and Worcester during its eight stages and 722km.
On stage 1, racers will leave the Diemersfontein Wine Estate and experience plenty of climbing. They will visit Bainskloof pass and Kluytjieskraal and get scenic vistas over the Tulbagh and Wolsley valley, which riders will traverse to reach en route to Ceres.
The race will settle into Ceres for three nights. Stage 2 will feature three loops including plenty of singletrack. On stage three, riders will warm up on undulating terrain before facing the major obstacle of the day and perhaps of the whole race, a high mountain and subsequent descent. The climb will appear in two parts, the first of which follows a wagon trail at a 12 percent gradient, built over 100 years ago and becoming continuously more rugged as the climb goes on. A short flat section then allows for some recovery and gives riders a view of the peak high above which will soon be referred to as Mount Evilrest. The surface to the summit is smooth but the gradients reach 25 percent.
Stage 4 will take racers from Ceres to Worcester on a relatively easy stage of just 86km.
Teams of two will set off at 30-second intervals for a stage 5 time trial. They'll race a figure-eight shaped loop in the foothills of Brandwacht, taking the race along the western side of Worcester through semi-desert vegetation.
Riders will leave Worcester for stage 6 in a neutral convoy for what may be the hardest stage of the race. They'll retrace part of the 2009 route, but in reverse. This stage will pass over the wall of the vast Theewaterskloof Dam and into Porcupine Hills before reaching the Cape Nature Conservation area Groenlandberg. Route designer Leon Evans has found a new way for riders to conquer this beast. Part 1 follows a steep dirt road, but at the end of it the elusive crest still lies on the horizon. The second part takes riders into virgin Epic mountain biking territory and deep into nature. The big stage ends on flowing singletrack in Thandi and Oak Valley.
The penultimate stage will feature short hills early on before visiting the Houwhoek Inn into Botriver. The main obstacle of the day is the climb up to the Lebanon Highlands Plantation.
Per race tradition, the final stage is the shortest of the non-time trial stages, but it won't be easy. In 2010, a new route goes into the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, on Buysepad and skirts Gamtoe Pass. There's no portage this year.
Rumors are flying that Lance Armstrong may compete in the Cape Epic. A South African news outlet reported on its website, www.iol.co.za, "If Armstrong rides the Epic - and negotiations are still ongoing, but ongoing well, says (Cape Epic founder Kevin) Vermaak - it will lift the race to an entirely new level. Armstrong is already coming to South Africa in March 2010 for the Jag Foundation charity."
The 2009 edition was won by Team Bulls' Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm. Absa Ladies' Sharon Laws and Hanlie Booyens took the women's overall.
2010 Cape Epic
March 21: Stage 1 - Diemersfontein to Ceres, 117km (2,190m climbing)
March 22: Stage 2 - Ceres to Ceres, 90km (1,625m climbing)
March 23: Stage 3 - Ceres to Ceres, 115km (2,280m climbing)
March 24: Stage 4 - Ceres to Worcester, 86km (1,640m climbing)
March 25: Stage 5 - Worcester to Worcester (time trial), 27km (860m climbing)
March 26: Stage 6 - Worcester to Oak Valley, 123km (2,240m climbing)
March 27: Stage 7 - Oak Valley to Oak Valley, 99km (2,160m climbing)
March 28: Stage 8 - Oak Valley to Lourensford, 65km (1,640m climbing)
For more information about the 2010 Cape Epic, including maps and profiles, visit http://www.cape-epic.com.
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