Cape Epic

2022 produced an Absa Cape Epic for the ages. Arguably the most exciting race to date. Here’s who to look out for this year. Photo: Twitter @valdevieestate

Cape Epic 2023: Who to watch in the men’s field

2022 produced an Absa Cape Epic for the ages. Arguably the most exciting race to date. Here’s who to look out for this year.

Cape Epic

2022 produced an Absa Cape Epic for the ages. Arguably the most exciting race to date. Here’s who to look out for this year. Photo: Twitter @valdevieestate

2022 produced an Absa Cape Epic for the ages. Arguably the most exciting race to date.

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Three teams laid hands on the yellow leader jerseys, though only two raced in it, and in 2023 all three return to the Western Cape to do battle once more.

However, Orbea x Leatt x S.C., Canyon Northwave MTB and Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne will not be the only teams battling for victory this year.

In 2022, Matt Beers and Chris Blevins of Toyota-Specialized-Ninety One won the Prologue before Canyon Northwave MTB seized the yellow Ciovita leader jerseys from their shoulders on Stage 1. Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek proceeded to hold the lead until the final stage, when Georg Egger and Lukas Baum became the first riders to overturn a deficit during the Absa Cape Epic’s Grand Finale. Racing with a single support crew member Speed Company Racing were the ultimate underdogs. In 2023 they return with not one, but two title sponsors and targets on their backs. 

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Matt Beers and Chris Blevins may not have been able to mount a sustained challenge to the Canyon Northwave team when Baum and Egger, now racing as, Orbea x Leatt x S.C. surged from third after Stage 5 to first after Stage 7. They did, however, learn a great deal from the experience and are highly motivated to add another Absa Cape Epic title to Specialized’s total. Aside from Egger and Baum, who start with numbers 1-1 and 1-2 on their bikes, they will face stern competition from Seewald and Stošek as well as a number of well-known and new challengers. 

The primary threat to the top three from 2022 is the SCOTT SRAM MTB Racing team. Nino Schurter is already a two-time Absa Cape Epic winner and his 2023 partner, Andri Frischknecht, is the 2018 Swiss Epic champion. With Filippo Colombo having joined the team in the off-season there was speculation that SCOTT SRAM may do a last minute swap, if Colombo was showing himself to be in better form than Frischknecht. While that remains a luxury that the world’s premier World Cup team possesses, Frischknecht’s dominant showing at an Absa Cape Epic warm-up event proved he is more than ready to take on all challengers alongside Schurter this year.


Though not newcomers to the race the Spanish BH Coloma team are among the pre-event favourites for the first time this year. David Valero has a single Absa Cape Epic finish to his name while his partner Pablo Rodríguez Guede claims the title of Newbie, but with Valero having won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and put on strong showings during the 2022 UCI World Cup season, the pair are sure to be a threat for the overall race. Team Singer Racing, meanwhile, are brimming with Untamed experience. Simon Stiebjahn and Martin Frey have eleven Absa Cape Epic finishes between them and notched up a second place, overall, finish as a partnership in 2021. They will undoubtedly be tough to beat again this time out, especially after winning the 2022 4Islands MTB Croatia, one of the Epic Series Legend events.

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Stiebjahn and Frey’s erstwhile teammates, the Team Bulls Heroes, are also among the squads to watch. Urs Huber has an overall victory, in 2016, among his eleven race finishes and six stage wins to boot. In Simon Schneller he has another proven Absa Cape Epic campaigner alongside him. Though the pair will need a touch of good fortune if they are to significantly better their fifth-place finish of 2022. 

Another returning combination are the Wilier Pirelli Factory team of Fabian Rabensteiner and Wout Alleman. The Italian is the reigning European and National XCM Champion, while the Belgian is a former National Champion himself. Together they won Stage 6 of last year’s race, en route to seventh overall. The Italian outfit have Epic Series success in their collective experience, having won the SPAR Swiss Epic in 2019 and 2022. Though they have only ever managed single stage victories in the Epic Series’ Pinnacle event. If Rabensteiner and Alleman are to win the title they will likely have to double up on their 2022 stage winning efforts in 2023. 

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For the third time in as many editions, Hans Becking and José Dias will team up for BUFF Megamo. The Dutch/Portuguese combination managed to race their way into third overall, with a series of barnstorming performances in the later half of the race in 2021. Last year they rode more consistently, finishing fourth, but without adding to their tally of three stage victories as a team. In 2023 the BUFF Megamo combination could be the wild card among the big favourites, particularly if they pick up a stage win early on. 

A team that is sure to draw widespread media attention is Team Italian Friends. Vincenzo Nibali will partner with Samuele Porro after their respective teammates succumbed to crashes earlier this year and were forced out of the 2023 Absa Cape Epic. The Italian pairing is not short on experience nor firepower and may ruffle a few feathers along the way from Meerendal Wine Estate to Val de Vie Estate.

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Further down the list of potential race winners, podium contenders and fighters for the top five are the Bulls Mavericks, Pure HUMANPWR, SCOTT – Cala Bandida, KMC, Bernina Sport / SCOTT and Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne 2. The South African teams; Imbuko {type}DEV, PYGA Euro Steel, Valley Electrical Titan Racing and Insect Science will also be teams to watch. Particularly the defending Absa African title holders, Marco Joubert and Pieter du Toit, as well as Philip Buys and his Namibian teammate Alex Miller. In five of his six most recent Absa Cape Epic finishes Buys has finished in the top ten overall. On four of those occasions, he wore the red Absa African Men’s jersey on the final podium. It is consistency like that which pays off over eight challenging days… 

To view the full men’s category line-up for the 2023 Absa Cape Epic click here.

To watch the race as it unfolds, live, visit from 19-26 March. 

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