Top Teams to Watch

in the Race for Yellow

The 2024 Absa Cape Epic features a stacked line-up of elite teams. The battle for victory and the podium is undoubtedly going to be tight and could go down to the wire. As could the fight for a top ten placing and the sub-category honours. 

In Chapter 2 we previewed the World Bicycle Relief, Toyota Specialized NinetyOne, and ORBEA LEATT Speed Company. In this issue we are looking at the broader men’s field and introducing more likely contenders and profiling the top ten teams of the 2024 Absa Cape Epic.

Five-Star Favourites 

#1 The Defending Champion

Matt Beers takes on the 2024 Absa Cape Epic alongside 2018 winner Howard Grotts. The American skills should suit the mountainous route this year and that means Toyota Specialized NinetyOne start as five-star favourites, alongside two other teams.

#2 Charitable Champs

Nino Schurter has been a, and at times the, rider to watch throughout the majority of his storied mountain biking career. At 37 the clock is ticking however and the Swiss star was unwilling to miss an Absa Cape Epic when none of his SCOTT-SRAM factory teammates were eager to join him on an African adventure in an Olympic year. In stepped Sebastian Fini and the proposal to race for charity. Meet team World Bicycle Relief.

#3 Pure Speed

ORBEA LEATT Speed Company started the 2022 race as unknown quantities and turned the event on its head, winning the overall title by overturning a deficit on the final stage, for the first time in the Absa Cape Epic’s history. 2023 was going to plan for Georg Egger and Lukas Baum until a major mechanical cost them the yellow jerseys on Stage 6. They are sure to take the same aggressive approach into the 2024 race and start as firm fan favourites as a result.

four Five-Star Favourites 

#4 Canyon Crusaders 

Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek have a complex relationship with the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. Though as one of only three pairings in this list to have raced an Absa Cape Epic together before, as a team, they have experience on their side. Now racing as Canyon SIDI they will look to exorcise the demons of 2022, when they were toppled off the top of the podium by ORBEA LEATT Speed Company, and the mild disappointment of finishing fifth last time out. Their support team, of Marc Stutzmann and Petr Vakoc, deserve to be listed here too, having finished seventh in 2023. The presence of a returning champion has bumped them from a full feature on the list to a quick mention.

#5 Buff Enough

If fan favourite status factored into race victories Hans Becking would be undefeated. The charismatic Dutchman is back in 2024, for his sixth Absa Cape Epic and his first alongside European XCM Champion, Wout Alleman. The Buff Megamo team will certainly be competitive and like Canyon SIDI are strong podium contenders, if not quite among the very favourites for outright victory.

#6 Wild and Free

The Wilier Vittoria Factory team have a near decade long history, spanning a number of title sponsors, with the Absa Cape Epic. The Italian outfit is always competitive and have notched up frequent stage victories too. However their best ever general classification result was the third place Samuele Porro achieved, alongside Damiano Ferraro. By partnering, 2022 European XCM Champion, Fabian Rabensteiner with Porro the squad have a great chance of matching that 2019 result.

Three-Star Favourites

#7 Torpedo Across the Bows 

Daniel Geismayr is one of the most experienced campaigners and the multiple-time Austrian XCM Champion will partner Jakob Dorigoni, who is making his Absa Cape Epic debut, in 2024. The collaboration between Wilier Vittoria Factory and Torpado Scuderia sees Geizmayr and Dorigoni racing as Wilier Torpado. They will not only be a formidable asset in support of Fabian Rabensteiner and Samuele Porro, but they could challenge for a top five placing themselves too.

#8 Maverick and Iceman

Team BULLS are stalwarts of the Absa Cape Epic. The squad has accumulated four titles over the years, but their last was in 2016. Now in a rebuilding phase Simon Schneller will guide the talented young French XCM Champion, Axel Roudil-Cortinat, through his second race. Together they are a solid bet for a top ten placing, and could upset some of the more fancied teams en route to a top five finish too.

#9 Singing for Supper 

The most experienced man on this list, Simon Stiebjahn, partners a newcomer, Jakob Hartmann for the 2024 Absa Cape Epic. Two years into the Singer Racing project the team has grown from founders Stiebjahn and Martin Frey to include not only Hartmann but also Caleb Kieninger, Matthias Bettinger, Mika Webs, and Jonas King. Hartmann and Stiebjahn take on the 2024 race together and will be a team to watch.

#10 The King of the Jungle

The most successful Absa Cape Epic rider in the 2024 UCI Men’s field, Jaroslav Kulhavy, is back after a three-event hiatus. The 2012 Olympic Champion might not be the force he once was, but the Czech Express remains a formidable talent and a major draw card. Alongside Filip Adel the Superior Lions could challenge for a top ten finish and put a cat among the pigeons.