It’s time. After its debut at the Costa Blanca Bike Race and its victory at the Pioneer New Zealand (Masters category 40), the Orbea Factory Team, made up by Ibón Zugasti and Tomi Misser, takes on its first great sports objective of the season: the Cape Epic.
Considered to be the Tour de France of Mountain Bikes, this is the only competitive challenge in mountain biking to be cataloged by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as hors catégorie. In this race, more than 1200 bikers from around the world take on the wildest side of Africa for a total of 691 kilometers, with a positive elevation change of 15,400 meters.
You’ll be able to experience seven fast-paced, demanding stages – plus the prologue – from the inside, thanks to the videos that we will be posting here every day, in which Ibón and Tommi will tell us what it is like to fight for victory in one of the world’s toughest MTB challenges.
Prologue, March 19: Meerendal – Meerendal.26 km.750 of positive elevation change
The Cape Epic has begun with a prologue along a route very similar to that of the 2016 edition, so it was no surprise for Ibón and Tommi. The Orbea Factory Team ended the day in second place, with a time of 1h 10' 32''. They came in only 4 seconds behind Brentjens-Azevedo, the pair that will start off as leaders in the first stage of the Cape Epic 2017: 101 km and 2300 m of elevation change, with the starting and finish line in Hermanus.
Stage 1, March 20: Hermanus – Hermanus.101 km.2300 m of positive elevation change
Ecstatic. That describes the mood of Ibón and Tomi upon finishing this first stage: they recorded the best time of the day in the Masters category (4h 50’ 24”) , positioning themselves as leaders in this category, with an 11’41” advantage over Brentjens-Azevedo. They also achieved the 25th best time in the overall ranking for the day, coming in ahead of pairs in the Elite category like Hermida and Purito Rodríguez. The Orbea Factory Team now faces the second stage – 102 km and 2350 m of positive difference in elevation between Hermanus and Greyton, wearing the blue leaders’ jersey and feeling great on their Oiz.
Stage 2, March 21: Hermanus – Greyton. 102 km. 2350 m of positive elevation change
Ibón and Tomi continue in the lead in the Masters category, after finishing the second stage in second place, barely 1.5 seconds behind Brentjens-Azevedo, the pair they’ve fought for the blue maillot ever since Day 1. These two riders from the Netherlands and Brazil, respectively, were the fastest today, setting a time of 2h:57':01''. Third place was held by two well-known members of the peloton: Australian Cadel Evans and American George Hincapie.
Stage 3, March 22: Greyton – Greyton. 78 km. 1650 m of positive elevation change
Tomi had more than his share of bad luck today, with two flat tires. In spite of this, the Orbea Factory Team is still leading in the overall rankings of the Masters category, after finishing the stage in third place, coming in 06'45'' behind Evans and Hincapie, the day’s fastest riders. In a Cape Epic marked by extremely high temperatures (between 38 and 41 ºC), tomorrow Ibón and Tomi will take on the longest stage of the race (112 km) and one of the most difficult (2,150 meters of elevation change).
Stage 4, March 23: Elandskloof – Oak Valley. 112 km. 2150 m of positive elevation change
The Orbea Factory Team has made it past the mid-point of the Cape Epic, holding on to first place in the Masters category. Today went by without any major incidents. Ibón and Tomi crossed the finish line once again in third position, 02’31” behind Evans and Hincapie, the fastest riders for the second day in a row. Tomorrow the Orbea Factory Team riders will tackle an 84-km stage, with 2100 meters of positive elevation change and a route designed for more technical bikers and single track lovers to enjoy like never before.
Stage 5, March 24: Oak Valley – Oak Valley. 84 km. 2100 m of positive elevation change
The Orbea Factory Team will continue to sport the blue leader’s jersey in the Masters category, after another stage of battling non-stop at an incredible pace. Ibón and Tomi set the second-best time of the day, after Evans and Hincapie, and they managed to place another minute between themselves and the pair made up by Brentjens-Azevedo, who are second in the overall rankings at 4’ from the Orbea Factory Team. Tomorrow, a grueling stage: 2750 m of positive elevation change over 103 km, including the monumental Groenlandberg climb: a punishing 9 km, with ramps of as much as 20%, which no one who has ever taken part in the Cape Epic can ever forget.
Stage 6, March 25: Oak Valley – Oak Valley. 103 km. 2750 m of positive elevation change
The Orbea Factory Team remains the leader in the Masters category after finishing the next-to-the-last stage of the South African race. Ibón Zugasti and Tomi Misser finished in thirdplace in today’s stage, 3 seconds behind the pair Cadel Evans and George Hincapie, the fastest riders today. Second place went to the Brentjens-Azevedo duo, who shaved a couple of seconds off their time in the overall rankings against the Orbea Factory Team. They are now 2.43 seconds away. Tomorrow is the final stage: a route that will start in Oak Valley and end in Val de Vie, in Paarl, after 85 km, and with a positive elevation change of 1350 m. Here is where the Cape Epic will be decided. The stakes are high. Come on, guys! Give it one last effort!
Stage 7, March 26: Oak Valley – Val de Vie in Paarl. 85 km. 1350 m of positive elevation change
The Cape Epic has ended with a great performance by the Orbea Factory Team. Ultimately, the team made up by IbónZugasti and Tomi Misser finished second in the Masters category. The last stage decided everything, and the pair consisting of Cadel Evans and George Hincapie were the ones who came through in the end. They managed to win the stage, and with it the top slot overall in the competition. The Brentjens-Azevedo duo came in second, while third place went to Zugasti and Misser, who fought throughout the race to maintain their position as leaders. In spite of not winning, they have nonetheless demonstrated their tremendous quality on two wheels and take away a well-deserved silver medal. Congratulations, guys!