The Contenders: Exxaro Jersey 

The Contenders: 



The Exxaro Jersey competition provides a launch pad for young riders, from historically disadvantaged communities to catapult themselves to a more successful life, both on and off the bike. In 2023 the riders in the category will be racing for education and to further their cycling aspirations.

The Exxaro Jersey competition is reserved for riders under the age of 26 who come from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. With the 26 year old age limit in place, the Exxaro Jersey competition has, at times, seen waves of domination followed by years of once-off winners. This year could well be the start of a new dynasty as the 2022 champions and 2021 runners up, Halalisani Ndebele and Tlotlo Selala are split for the 2023 race. The pair, racing as Team Exxaro/PWC 1, finished an impressive 26th overall in 2021, behind Lorenzo le Roux and Luyanda Thobigunya. Then in 2022 they saw off their nearest rivals by 80 minutes.

They will, however, line up against each other in the nineteenth Absa Cape Epic. Ndebele will race alongside Alpheus Maduna. While Selala partners Masixole Zondani. Both Maduna and Zondani made their debuts in the 2022 edition, finishing in 89thposition overall. They have, however, developed exponentially since then. In a recent four-day stage race Ndebele and Maduna finished first in the open men’s category, with Selala and Zondani second, 22 minutes back.

Both Exxaro teams were ahead of their Ninety One-songo-Specialized rivals, Zola Ngxakeni and Ntlantla Nonkasa though. Which should serve as a major confidence boost for the men from Gauteng as the team have home ground advantage on the Western Cape’s technical trails.

Along with the top two Exxaro MTB Academy teams the club will be sending four more squads to the 2023 race. The other teams are unlikely to challenge for victory, but in a category where dark horses can rise from obscurity, that is not a certainty. Other academies, like the McGregor Young Warriors, Fairtree Imperial or Citi Change a Life could also supply surprise winners.

The McGregor Young Warriors will be represented by two teams, Juane Vaaltyn and Mandall Matjan as McGregor Young Warriors 1 and Johlen Vries and Fernell Regue as McGregor Young Warriors 2; these four riders each have an Absa Cape Epic finish to their names and will be sure to draw on the experience garnered in previous events when they set out to chase the green Exxaro jersey. The Fairtree teams are younger and less seasoned than ever, only Thembela Lukalo at 25 years old was born in the previous century. He will partner 20 year old, Atlehang Motsokotsi for NTT Fairtree 1. They will also have Kusaselihle Ngidi and Ongeziwe Tyapa, of Fairtree Imperial 2 alongside them.

The charge for the first ever Exxaro Women’s jersery will be led by the Fairtree Imperial Ladies Ann Swanepoel and Yomelela Mfazwe, as well as the Fairtree Imperial Ladies2 Sive Boyce and Ongezo Mini and we are sure to see some internal competition arise as the race draws to a close.

Martin Dreyer’s Change a Life academy will almost certainly have a pivotal say in who pulls the final light green Ciovita leader jerseys over their heads at Val de Vie. The Citi Change a Life 1 team, of Nhlanhla Mthembu and Luvuyo Siyasi were the 2022 Exarro Jersey runners up; they will, like the rest of the Exxaro Jersey field, be highly motivated to fight for the victory throughout the eight days.

The champions will once again win the choice between a Grade 0-12 bursary to the Curro School of their choice for a family member or an online tertiary education course from Stadio Higher Education. These prizes are truly life-changing, providing the knowledge and skills to transform their fortunes in a way that cycling on its own cannot. Both Curro and Stadio have also generously allowed the unclaimed prizes to roll down to the second placed team. Meaning that should the winners decide to send their children to a Curro School, the runners up will have their choice of a Stadio tertiary education course.

Tune in to the daily Live Broadcast of the Absa Cape Epic to see how the racing in the Exxaro Jersey unfolds; with the level of talent at this year’s race, you’ll be sure to see teams mixing it up for the Exxaro jersey as well as the Amateur jerseys!