Just how tough is the Absa Cape Epic?


The Absa Cape Epic 2015 route was unveiled this week with the obligatory grimaces and no disappointments. 739 kilometers in total and 16 000 meters of climbing await riders from the 45 countries represented. Riders have five months to get the recommended 20 hours per week of training in. There will be some reality checks, wake up calls and, no doubt, a few texts between rider pairs to get their act together.

While riders nervously contemplate what is to come, event organisers had a quick look at some interesting numbers from this year’s race.

Starting with training - last year riders trained for 5.6 months on average, for a maximum of 18 hours per week and on average 11 hours per week (16 hours per week is optimal in peak times, according to training technology specialist, Peter Figg, from Polar).

Looking at performance numbers, the average speed of the fastest rider was 23.9km/h and the slowest, a dogged 12.3km/h. The fastest time was 30 hours 31 minutes and 59.2 seconds. The slowest time clocked a 59 hour, 23 minute and 29.1 second trial of endurance. No names mentioned.

Last year's women’s team race overall winner, Ariane Kleinhans; "The heat is something that I had to get used to. Dealing with the loose sand, as opposed to firmer ground in Europe, and technical skills required to deal with all the cornering took some adjustment.”

Interestingly, 90.5% of all riders finished the race, with the highest percentage (87%) of finishers coming from the Grand Masters and Women’s categories. The oldest finisher was an inspiring 68 years of age; the youngest an enviable 18 years.

Race founder, Kevin Vermaak, said,” Last year’s race was unique in that not only was it one of the most exciting finishes ever, with the leader jersey changing hands constantly, it also engaged audiences from around the world like never before. The live tracking element added another dimension to the race.”

A unique feature of the 2014 race was the addition of mobile tracking units carried by each team. These devices told their own tale of the safety and difficulty of the race.

Over the 8 days of the event, Tracker, who developed the units specifically for the Absa Cape Epic in line with their vehicle intelligence products, recorded the following:

• More than 480 000 rider kilometers were tracked

• More than 780 000 kilometers of logistics and support crew were tracked

• More than 4340 batteries were charged

Last year’s men’s winner, Kristian Hynek; ”That's what's special about the Absa Cape Epic, I don’t know another race where you have a device like this. I was very glad I didn’t have to use the emergency functionality, though.”

There were 2174 Mediclinic consultations and the average heart rate through the race ranged from 57bpm to 184bpm.

As tough as this race is on bodies, the bikes also have to hold their own. This year, 79% chose full suspension bikes, 90% rode on 29inch wheels and 62% of riders bought a brand new bike for the race.

Next year promises to be an even tougher challenge. The 2015 course will ask some serious questions of the 1200 riders, with day 5 involving a monster 117 kilometer stage and 2500 meters of climbing. Riders will need every bit of the 950kg of pasta consumed in the 2014 race to get through.

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