Evans and Hincapie having a ball at the Absa Cape Epic

Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

“This is an absolutely fantastic event. I have raced for some 20 years on the road and mountain bike and I have never ever experience anything like the Absa Cape Epic.”

Those are the words of Cadel Evans, a man who has seen nearly all there has to be seen in cycling. Besides his heralded Tour de France win he was a professional mountain biker in his time and was twice a World Cup series winner.

Evans’s Absa Cape Epic partner is road racing veteran George Hincapie (BMC Absa Racing). It is Hincapie’s first ever mountain bike stage race but they are third in the Dimension Data Masters category and clearly enjoying themselves.

“This is a completely new experience for me. This is not only my first Cape Epic, but also my first time in South Africa and I am loving every moment of the experience,” said Evans.

Evans and Hincapie have won stages 3 and 4 in the Dimension Data Masters’ category. They are now third in a very competitive category.

“At one stage today (Stage 4) it felt like a road race because of the big bunch riding and open roads. George being a 99.9% road cyclist did really well today! He is actually doing an awesome job,” added Evans

Hincapie said: “The Absa Cape Epic is certainly something new. It is a lot harder than I expected or thought it would be for sure. I will be in shape again at the end of the race!

“With it being my first time in South Africa I would have loved to look around while we are riding and try to appreciate the beauty of it, but these guys are really racing hard so there is no time to look around. I am staying a week longer in the country so will use that time to have a look around.”

For many years mountain bikers have labelled the Absa Cape Epic as the Tour de France of mountain biking. Evans, as a former winner of the Tour, believes there is some truth in this.

“Firstly I believe the Absa Cape Epic should pride itself on its uniqueness with regards to the racing environment and the event that it is. But in terms of prestige, endurance and the event being the pinnacle of the sport, yes, the Absa Cape Epic is the Tour de France on the mountain bike stage racing, especially in a non-Olympic year.”

*The 2017 Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race is taking place until Sunday 26 March. Watch the action live on our website www.cape-epic.com