It's exactly as the headline says.
The Absa Cape Epic is the Tour de France of mountain bike racing, except that it takes place in the south of another continent. In South Africa: between Hermanus and Paarl, in a crown of plateaus to the north of Cape Town.
Seven excruciating stages through trails that snake among South African vineyards and orchards, for a total of 648 km and a 15,475 metres of elevation gain. What's more, in seven days you come across the same conditions of some of the most challenging Tours de France: from the sweltering heat to torrential rain.
Fabian Rabensteiner and Wout Alleman faced all the sudden changes in weather head-on and completed the Absa Cape Epic 2023 in 4th place overall, with a sensational win in the first stage of the race.
“The stage we won was quite challenging. Apart from having the highest elevation gain in the entire competition, this stretch was constantly being hit by a strong crosswind that made things even more complicated. I won't deny that the win absolutely galvanised us, but the weather we came across during the 5th stage really made things difficult”.
Fabian Rabensteiner doesn't even attempt to hide the adversities encountered during the Groenlandberg Nature Reserve stage. “Right from the start, this stage was considered the most challenging, but the heavy overnight rainfall made it even harder. I've very rarely seen fords so deep that they made it impossible to understand how dangerous some parts of the course were. So Wout and I thought it best to focus a little less on the overall standings and pay more attention to looking out for our safety. In the end, a 6th place in this stage should be seen as a really good result: a veritable test of endurance and reliability both for us and our prototype bikes”.
The satisfaction at Casa Wilier is palpable, seeing that the Rabensteiner-Alleman duo has massively improved the final result achieved at the Absa Cape Epic 2022. They climbed from 7th to 4th, proving significant progress in the attitude necessary to face such an important competition.
Andrea Gastaldello expresses all his satisfaction for the achievement in South Africa. “In a race like the Absa Cape Epic, the experiential component is key and there's no denying that the improvement in Fabian and Wout's result, which placed them at the foot of the podium, is the best endorsement for the next edition of the Absa and for the entire 2023 season of our offroad Factory Team. A sort of great and welcome spring omen”.
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