Stage recap

Accomplishment. Relief. Absolute joy.

It’s not over

until it’s


Emotions were written all over every rider that crossed the finish line of the 18th Absa Cape Epic at Sunday’s Grand Finale at Val de Vie Estate, after racing for eight days, 681km and 16 900m of climbing.

“This is just riding my bike with my best friend and it has paid off in a great way.”

Two riders felt it more than anyone. Speed Company Racing’s Georg Egger and Lukas Baum did the near unthinkable to become the first team in the history of the event to chase down the overall leaders on the last stage and claim the leader jerseys and top step of the podium.

Egger and Baum won the 68km Grand Finale stage from Stellenboch to Val de Vie Estate, and in the process obliterated the two-minute-and-45 seconds time advantage that overall leaders Canyon Northwave MTB (Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek) started with on the day. “I’m so emotional right now,” said Lukas Baum at the finish. “This is just riding my bike with my best friend and it has paid off in a great way.”

“We had no time checks out there, we had no way of knowing what was happening,” added Egger. “We didn’t know we were in the overall lead. We knew nothing. It was actually better that way because if we knew we had the lead we probably would have made a mistake.”

SCOTT-SRAM (Nino Schurter and Lars Forster) and Santa Cruz (Maxime Marotte and Keegan Swenson) kept pace with Speed Company Racing for much of the day, potentially setting up a last day sprint finish. It was not to be, with Baum and Egger attacking once more on the final, steep, winding climb of the 2022 Absa Cape Epic to win in absolute style. Canyon Northwave MTB rode courageously to hang on to second overall while Toyota-NinetyOne-Specialized took the final step on the GC podium.

Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss (Faces Rola) galloped to a well deserved win and Absa African Women’s jersey title on Val de Vie’s Polo Field in front of an appreciative South African home crowd, but it was the America-Argentina team of Haley Batten and Sofia Gomez Villafane (NinetyOne-songo-Specialized) who won the CM.com Women’s category. Early on in the stage, NinetyOne-songo-Specialized and Faces Rola pulled away from the other women’s teams, even with BMC MTB Racing’s Pauline Ferrand-Prévot looking like she meant business at the start of the stage. BMC MTB Racing dropped away after a strong start, leaving NinetyOne-songo-Specialized and Faces Rola to contest the Grand Finale alone.

“This is just an un-freaking real feeling,” said an overjoyed Haley Batten. “We had a good week. We didn’t make too many mistakes and not much went wrong for us. Even on our weaker days, we were strong enough to limit any damage,” she said.

Villafane added that the morning started with Batten determined to go for the stage win. “Haley was fired up in the morning. She told me she wanted to go for the win but I said I probably wouldn't have the legs. We kept up well with Candice and Mariske, but on that last climb I just tapped out. I didn’t have any more. We knew the overall lead was big, so we could just roll on to the finish and enjoy the final few kilometres of what’s been a special week of mountain biking.”

Another pairing who enjoyed a very special week of riding was Karl Platt and Christoph Sauser. The songo NinetyOne Epic Legends wrote another chapter in The Book of Legend when they added the NTT Masters Jerseys to their five men’s titles each. In the Grand Masters, CST PostNL Bafang (Bart Brentjens and Abraao Azevedo) won by a huge margin of 01:45 over second-placed Garmin-Schnyder GCS, while in the Mixed category Mannie Heymans and Genevieve Weber clung to their lead for a brave win. Weber soldiered through the pain of suspected broken ribs from a crash earlier in the week to stay in green.

Stage 5 champs Pieter du Toit and Marco Joubert of Imbuko {Type} DEV convincingly won the Absa African Men’s Jersey while Halalisani Ndebele and Tlotlo Selala (Team Exxaro Academy 1) took the Exxaro Special Jersey. “We are so very happy to win the Exxaro category,” said a visibly elated Selala at the finish. “Last year Halalisani and I tried but couldn’t do it, but this year we did it. Today is a life-changing moment for us.”

Read on for more tales of accomplishment, relief and joy from what was a Grand Finale for the ages.