After 8 days of racing, covering a total of 657 kilometers and 17.250 meters of climbing around the stunning and brutal landscapes of South Africa, the Absa Cape Epic proved yet again that it's one of the most fascinating races within MTB racing.
Photos: Gary Perkin, Sam Clark & Nick Muzik
When the cream of the crop of Elite XCM showed up at Lourensford Wine Estate on Sunday the 20th of March to toe the line for the prologue, nobody questioned that they were about to take on one of the world's most challenging races.
Renowned for its heat and extremely dusty conditions, Cape Epic is a race that demands a certain level of determination from its racers. And with a course that throws anything from rocky singletracks, farm road double tracks, and big mountain climbs at the participants, you have to be a complete bike rider to contest for the win.
After a stellar run at the 2021 Cape Epic that included 3 stage wins, the Spanish squad was out to prove that last year's success wasn't a fluke. By finishing second on stage 1, Buff-Megamo's leading duo: Hans Becking and José Dias, proved that they once again meant business.
Unfortunately, a string of ill-timed punctures and some physical issues for José meant that the duo had a hard time replicating last year's success. But by showing valiant fighting spirit, the duo still managed to finish 4th on GC.
When we checked in with the team during last week's racing, we were thrilled to hear that our products were performing as expected in the grueling conditions despite the team's challenges:
"I am so happy with the performance of the components. I couldn’t say what exact % it benefits me in my pedal stroke, but it definitely works better and the bearings have less friction than what we previously used. This is really important in these long stages, especially when you have to race again the next day", was what José told us.
"If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all"
When you bring the reigning XCM World Champion to South Africa you're automatically going to have a target on your back. This didn't seem to faze Canyon Northwave's premier duo consisting of rainbow band wearer Andreas Seewald and his partner Martin Stošek though.
Plenty accustomed to the pressure by now, Andreas and Martin came out guns blazing and finished 3rd in the prologue. Fuelled by their performance the day before, the duo put up a dominant performance on stage 1 which saw them claim the win and the leader's jersey.
Unfortunately, like with Buff-Megamo, bad luck was ultimately also what came to decide Andreas and Martin's time at Cape Epic. After suffering a small crash during stage 1, Andreas battled with worsening pains during the week's challenges.
The duo came stumbling close to defending the GC until the end, but ultimately Andreas' condition meant that they lost the battle on the final stage and ended up being second on the overall podium.
The Ultimate Testing Ground
Due to its challenging course and grueling conditions, The Absa Cape Epic is described as "The Race That Measures All". This is true for the racers, who can see how they stack up against the sternest competition in the world. But, it's just as true for the gear that the racers rely on.
Having made their debut back in 2017, our Coated Bearings have proved time after time that they thrive in the challenges that Cape Epic presents. Something, that the team manager of Buff-Megamo, Pau Zamora confirmed for us during this year's Epic: "They are really good. The proof is that we have already had 5 long stages and we have not changed any bearing or pulley wheels from any rider. That’s fantastic.”
Now, we can only hope that both Buff-Megamo and Canyon Northwave's luck turns, so they can get back out there and help us further validate that our Coated Bearings are the fastest and most capable around.