#1 & #2 Team Up

to take on the Absa Cape Epic

2023’s Marathon World Championship’s Gold and Silver medallists will be teaming up as Cannondale Factory Racing at the 2024 Absa Cape Epic. The six-time finisher – four-time second place overall and three-time Absa African Jersey winner – Candice Lill starts the twentieth edition with double XCM World Champion Mona Mitterwallner.

Candice Lill’s Absa Cape Epic record is remarkable. In six starts the reigning South African XCO and XCM champion has notched up five stage victories, spent six days in the orange CIOVITA Women's leaders’ jersey, and won the Absa African Jersey on three occasions, but has never stood atop the final podium. In fact, she has finished second in all four of the last four editions of the race. With Mona Mitterwallner alongside her and the support of Cannondale Factory Racing behind her 2024 marks her best opportunity to set the record right.

“I have lost count of the number of second places I have at the Absa Cape Epic,” Lill laughed. “However, I believe that each one has been for a reason and I have chosen to see them for the massive growth and learning opportunities that they are. I wouldn’t be the rider I am today without those experiences.”

“I have always been incredibly motivated to excel at the Absa Cape Epic, and this year will be no different,” she continued. “The end goal is absolutely to go for the win, but a win is the culmination of many meticulously executed moments. Going ‘all in’ for me is about the quality of the partnership between Mona and myself; how we look after each other and execute each moment together, no matter the situation.”

“I always try to approach the race with a very clear, calm and methodical mind. I believe that as top-level athletes, the most amount of pressure is the pressure that we put on ourselves. For me, this internal pressure is healthy: it’s what drives and motivates me to work hard and push myself towards my goals. On the other hand, I find that external pressure can be unhealthy if not managed correctly. It is a skill, but we all have the choice of what sort of pressures we’re going to let weigh on us.”

“For me, being one and two at XCM World Championships, in Glasgow last year, is a small indication that we have the potential, but this is the Absa Cape Epic; a completely different race with a unique set of challenges that will test our partnership in every way,” Lill revealed.

Like Lill, Mitterwallner is choosing to harness the power of the pressure of past results and the favourites tag. “I wouldn’t call it pressure. I would say it is giving us wings,” the diminutive Austrian said. “Candice and I know how strong we can be and we already worked together nicely at the Marathon World Championship. We already did some training rides together and are busy perfecting our team work.”

By the Numbers


First Absa Cape Epic: 2017

Epics Completed: 6

Best Result: 2nd (2019, 2021, 2022 & 2023)

Stage Wins: 5


First Absa Cape Epic: 2024

Epics Completed: N/A

Best Result: N/A

Stage Wins: N/A

While many of her peers would balk at the idea of racing the Absa Cape Epic in an Olympic year, let alone making their Untamed debuts while chasing gold at the global games, Mitterwallner has a different approach. Famed for being a dedicated and volume-based trainer the 2020 Junior and 2021 Under 23 XCO World Champion is looking forward to slotting the eight-day stage race into her schedule.

“The Absa Cape Epic always has been very high on my want-to-do list,” she smiled. “I felt like I needed a fresh beginning and a new challenge for myself, to start my season differently this year, compared to how I had begun my seasons in previous years. I hope the Epic will give that refreshing kick to go into this important season with a lot of energy. Part of the reason I’m excited is that finding an Absa Cape Epic partner is difficult; so, having a well-matched partner, with the same ambitions on and off the bike, adds to my enthusiasm for the race.

Lill shares this enthusiasm and is also excited by the possibilities the 2024 route offers the Cannondale Factory Racing team. “I think the 2024 route looks amazing!” she enthused. “This may be an unpopular opinion, but I really enjoy the rough, rocky riding in Tulbagh and it will certainly be a true test in the first few days.”

“Wellington is one of the most underrated places to ride and a personal favourite of mine too. The trails are a lot of fun, but you definitely work for it. I foresee Mona thriving on the Queen Stage with 3000 metres of climbing. That can definitely be a day for gaps to form.”

“Then what better place to have the last few days than Stellenbosch? It’s the home of mountain biking in South Africa. I suspect the crowds will be mad there!” Lill concluded. “Mona and I are different riders with our own unique set of strengths. We will get the best out of each other if we are aware when the terrain and/or gradient is playing into our individual strengths and to look out for our partner in those moments. Team work is everything in the Absa Cape Epic.”

Like many debutants Mitterwallner has been receiving ample advice from her Cannondale Factory Racing teammates about what to expect from the race. “The first thing I got to hear was: ‘Afterwards you have to take some days off,’” she recalled. “Secondly, they told me how hard it will be and I have to be careful in a year like the Olympic year. Honestly, I am not worried. I train so much and I love to spend time on my bike. I think this race will be a great challenge for sure, but I will leave it stronger than I have been before. At least that’s what I believe. And sometimes you have to test your belief to find out what life has in store for you.”