Competitions

World Bicycle Relief & Ghost Factory Racing set Absa Cape Epic alight at scorching Prologue

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ABSA Cape Epic

World Bicycle Relief (Nino Schurter and Sebastian Fini) and Ghost Factory Racing (Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller) claimed the UCI Men’s and Aramex Women’s Categories respectively at today’s Absa Cape Epic Prologue in Somerset West.

Starting, taking place within the confines and finishing at Lourensford Wine Estate, the 2024 Prologue provided the typical tests of tough climbs, dusty descents and ever-rising late-summer temperatures. Handling the challenges - and their bikes - best on the day were World Bicycle Relief in the UCI Men’s race and Ghost Factory Racing in the Aramex Women’s Category. Both teams were remarkably cool and comfortable throughout the day’s racing.

Schurter, participating with Danish rider Sebastian Fini, seems to have finally met a partner who can match his enthusiasm and talent for trail riding. Fini was stuck like a child’s craft-set glitter to the multiple mountain bike World Champion, with the pair racing home in 1:02:38 for first place. Matt Beers and Howard Grotts (Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne) took second place in 1:03:29, with Hans Becking and Wout Alleman (Buff Megamo) rounding out the top three. Grotts, the 2018 Cape Epic winner, was reintroduced to the joys of cycling in South Africa when he was forced to bunny-hop over a puff adder at one point on the stage.

Sneaky snakes, aside, all three of the men’s top teams rode blemish-free Prologues, with Schurter and Fini having the edge on the steep climbs (though their descending was impressive too). Arguably, though, the ride of the day came from South African duo Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha (Imbuko).

Starting as the 18th-best team in the Prologue, Joubert and Botha scorched through the field and the route to finish in a time of 1:04:15 - this with Joubert crashing twice (first when he was looking at a spectator rather than the route and second just before the floating bridge).

For seven-time starter and former winner Schurter, this was only his second Prologue win at the Absa Cape Epic. “Coming here from Europe, I thought ‘Okay, it’s not too hot’ but it was brutal out there. On the climbs, the air was just standing still - so I think maybe we went too fast in the beginning and suffered towards the end, but still very happy with the result. Sebastian and I worked well together on that route. We have similar strengths and I think that showed in the racing today. Some long days are coming up. The competition will be tight, but that’s what I enjoy. That’s why I am here.”