For fans, the world-famous mountain bike stage race is so much more than what happens during the eight days of competition
CAPE TOWN, – Without the support of spectators, the Absa Cape Epic would not be the event it is today.
From mountain biking aficionados to toddlers enjoying a day out with their families, mountain biking’s Tour de France attracts thousands to the Western Cape’s finest wine farms and villages, putting on a show that it is so much more than the race itself.
This year’s event, being staged from 19-26 March, promises to be no different, as included on the route are Meerendal Wine Estate, Hermanus, Oak Valley Estate, Lourensford Wine Estate and, of course, Val de Vie Estate.
Starting outside Cape Town, the route transfers east before racing west and finally northwest in a scenic yet limit-testing arc through the province.
A great supporters of mountain biking, Meerendal’s emblem has adorned the jerseys of Absa Cape Epic winners, including Christoph Sauser and Esther Suss.
But Meerendal is also a dream for spectators. Visitors can indulge in a post-race pizza and beer at Carlucci’s, a burger at Bossa Winelands, or platter at the Crown Restaurant. The estate is also open for wine tastings and features a boutique hotel for those looking to stay in luxury before the big race.
The legend of Hermanus’s beauty, meanwhile, is sure to lure many on race days in the region: To the northwest lies the Hemel en Aarde Valley, an area synonymous with award-winning Pinot Noir and world-class mountain biking, while to the east Stanford, wine estates and wheat fields beckon.
Oak Valley Estate is undoubtedly among the most popular Absa Cape Epic race villages for its sprawling lawns and superb trails.
Besides mountain biking, fruit, flowers and wine, Oak Valley Estate’s Melting Pot restaurant is well worth a visit. Headed up by Chef John van Zyl, it features a culinary style of seasonal dishes presented on contemporary small plates, made for sharing.
In 2022, Lourensford Wine Estate was reintroduced to the Absa Cape Epic after an eight-year hiatus.
This year the race spends two nights on the 320-year-old estate.
Alongside the winery, Lourensford hosts a coffee roastery and several restaurants, an art gallery, and a market. Its location, effectively within Somerset West, means accommodation options abound beyond the race village, which is seldom the case in the smaller towns the Absa Cape Epic visits.
In 2023, for the sixth time, the Valley of Life will host the Absa Cape Epic Grand Finale. All roads, the saying goes, lead to Rome. In this race, all trails lead to Val de Vie Estate.
After one of the most demanding final stages in recent history, teams will embark on a mini tour de Val de Vie as they wind their way to the Polo Fields and the final finish line, while supporters will be treated to mountain biking entertainment at its finest.
VIP supporter packages provide canapés, Méthode Cap Classique and the perfect vantage point from which to watch the final sprint for the line. While on the lawns, food stalls and chill zones ensure that everyone enjoys the closing moments of the race.
There are various spectator points throughout the race at different intervals.
Fans will be able to see the riders at the start of the race, follow them along their journey by watching from viewpoints or see them make the final effort to cross the finish line at the end of each stage.
Spectators will also be allocated parking spaces that are manned by marshalls.