The Investec-songo-Specialized teams of Annika Langvad and Kate Courtney; and Jaroslav Kulhavý and Howard Grotts rode to Absa Cape Epic glory on 25 March 2018 as they crossed the finish line at Val de Vie Estate. In doing so the team became the first to win the UCI men’s and women’s categories in a single race; while Langvad became the most successful woman in the race’s history, Kulhavý joined the illustrious three time winners club and Grotts and Courtney became the first American winners of the untamed African mountain bike race.
Kulhavý and Grotts rode a trouble free 67 kilometre stage, crossing the line in second position – behind the stage winning Trek Selle San Marco 2 pairing of Fabian Rabensteiner and Michele Casagrande. In the Men’s overall General Classification Investec-songo-Specialized: Jaroslav Kulhavý and Howard Grotts were followed by Canyon Topeak: Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek in second, and Cannondale Factory Racing: Manuel Fumic & Henrique Avancini in third place on the podium.
The UCI women’s team of Annika Langvad and Kate Courtney, with a comfortable general classification lead could afford to shadow their closest rivals, Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz during the final stage. The pair crossed the finish line in fourth position, as Margot Moschetti and Raiza Goulao, of PMRA/CST Racing took the stage honours.
Langvad became a four-time winner of the Absa Cape Epic when she, and Courtney, crossed the finish line of the Grand Finale. In so doing she pulled clear of former teammate Ariane Lüthi on three victories, and now lies only one behind the all-time-greats of the race: Christoph Sauser and Karl Platt. At only 34 years of age, and having won each edition of the race she has taken part in, it seems likely that the Dane will surpass Sauser and Platt. Ascendis Health: Sabine Spitz and Robyn de Groot came second overall in the women’s General Classification with Silverback – KMC: Mariske Strauss and Annie Last finishing the podium off in third.
In the Absa African Men’s special jersey competition Matthys Beukes and Julian Jessop (PYGA Euro Steel) took the honours, while the Absa African Women’s special jersey winners Candice Lill and Amy Beth McDougall from Team dormakaba came out on top.
Lucky Mlangeni and Tshepo Tlou (Exxaro/PWC 1) punched the air in joy after they won the Exxaro special jersey race at the Grand Finale of the Absa Cape Epic. The Pretoria men have dominated the competition for previously disadvantaged riders all week, winning seven stages.
The attention for the elite men and women now shifts back to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup calendar and the second round of the cross-country series in Albstadt, Germany, in May.