Social Start to 2019 Absa Cape Epic Proceedings
The nervous energy on the fields of the University of Cape Town was palpable on Saturday as 650 teams registered for the 2019 Absa Cape Epic. Elite riders mingled with age groupers while milling around; completing the necessary admin, browsing the Merchandise Store and visiting the various sponsor stands. For some, the event had already begun with the Tsogo Sun Around the World Party and Amabubesi breakfast.
Held on Friday evening at Southern Sun’s The Cullinan hotel the Around the World Party allowed riders to let their hair down before the stress of the race truly took hold. Encouraged to dress up in costumes representing their home nations the riders mingled and shared stories of their preparation for the big race. The best dressed prize, was secured by the World Famous Salty Balls team of Stephen Salt and Andy Hodgson. Salt and Hodgson are set to start their sixth Absa Cape Epic on Sunday and have become famous within the race village as two of the event’s biggest characters.
On Saturday morning, before registration opened Kevin Vermaak hosted the annual Amabubesi breakfast. All riders who have finished three or more Absa Cape Epics are invited to the breakfast and the ride which follows it. The Amabubesi breakfast is made more special by the fact that even riders taking part in the 2019 race are invited to join the proceedings. With coffee, a delicious breakfast spread and an informal quiz – with prizes from the Absa Cape Epic sponsors – on offer the turn-out was good. Peter Calitz, who last rode in 2015 was one of the many previous competitors to attend the breakfast. Asked if he was hoping if someone was going to ask him to join them at the last minute Calitz just laughed.
“I’m all clogged up with the flu” Mike Nixon, one of the Last Lions, confided. The men and women in the coffee queue around him took dramatic steps away, weary of catching any bug at this point in the week. “No, I’ll be fine” Nixon assured everyone in earshot “and I’m not contagious”. Though Nixon’s partner, Shane Barker, is also reportedly suffering with a minor illness neither felt the need to call on Caltiz’s super-substitute services at this late point.
With the Prologue route already marked those Amabubesi taking part in the 2019 race were eager to get out on course. Fuelled up for the 20 kilometre ride they took to the mountain to see how the recent weather conditions had affected the course. By all accounts the recent rain has ensured that the dual tracks and single tracks on Table Mountain are in excellent condition.
This is good news for the first-timers; because the infamous Plum Pudding single tack, which is also the inaugural Land Rover Technical Terrain of the 2019 race, is set to be less nerve-wracking than usual. “It is only 200 metres of a 624 kilometre long race” Oliver Munnik, who is about to start his tenth Absa Cape Epic, said about Plum Pudding. “If the rider in front of you un-cleats don’t be afraid to walk it out. Rather be safe than sorry. You can’t win the race on the Prologue but you can definitely lose it” he advised.