The 2017 Absa Cape Epic was hugely successful for Land Rover South Africa. The two Land Rover Development Rider teams finished in the top 150, and the All-New Land Rover Discovery made its South African debut to huge acclaim.
The first few days of this year’s Absa Cape Epic made it one of the most gruelling editions of this world-famous mountain bike race. Extreme temperatures took their toll on riders, with many suffering dehydration and serious fatigue by the end of the prologue. These high temperatures continued during the first two days, resulting in serious setbacks for a handful of teams – some of which had to withdraw.
Fortunately, the mountain bikers in the two Land Rover Development Rider teams proved to have the determination and capability that helped them go above and beyond in their quest for success. At the end of the punishing, eight-day-long tour through South Africa’s most scenic, untamed mountain routes, these unruffled heroes finished in the top 150 out of 650 teams.
The duo of Mboneni Ngcobo (29) and Sthembiso Masango (29) cracked the top 100, coming in at 90th position – out of 650 team. This fantastic achievement was the result of months of training and preparation with Martin Dreyer, and support from Team Land Rover’s experienced riders. The younger pairing of Luvuyo Siyasi (21) and Syanda Masango (24) managed to finish 133rd in their maiden Absa Cape Epic – a fantastic result for these young riders who still have a lot of potential.
“We’re incredibly proud of the development riders. They’ve exceeded our expectations in every way, and we look forward to nurturing their talent and seeing them succeed in the future,” said Lisa Mallett, Marketing Director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. “Additional congratulations should go to the rest of Team Land Rover, who managed the mammoth achievement of completing this incredibly challenging mountain bike race.”
Rugby legend John Smit captained Team Land Rover, and was partnered with Shane Chorley. They completed the race in 338th position, followed closely by the sporting pair of Butch James and Morne van Vuuren in 340th. Powering ahead of them was Mike Nixon, one of the Absa Cape Epic’s Last Lions – riders who have completed every single Absa Cape Epic. With his Dutch teammate, Jasper van Dijk, Nixon finished in 292nd position.
“It was a great week. We had some amazing people around us, in the Land Rover Team,” said John Smit. “This has probably been my favourite Absa Cape Epics so far – I’m just glad it’s over and we can rest.”
With a setting of rugged terrain and beautiful views, Land Rover also took the opportunity to unveil the All-New Discovery, ahead of its South African launch in June. The All-New Discovery is the epitome of capability and composure, featuring three-rows and seven-seat SUV for incredibly versatility. Fans were able to get up close and personal with the latest model in the Land Rover family at the Absa Cape Epic Prologue on Sunday, 19 March, and again at the Grand Finale at the award-winning Val de Vie estate on Sunday, 25 March.
THE LAND ROVER FLAG WILL ALSO BE FLOWN BY 1995 RUGBY WORLD CUP-WINNER, JOEL STRANSKY.
Joel will be going for his eighth Epic finish this year. He is teaming up with fellow former Springbok, Jeremy Thompson, who boasts five finishes at the event. Meanwhile, the pairing of Butch James and Morne van Vuuren will see South African rugby and cricket fans finally seeing which discipline can boast about having the most focussed and determined athletes.
RIDERS SUPPORTED BY THE “CHANGE A LIFE” ACADEMY, RUN BY MARTIN DREYER
Mboneni Ngcobo (29) and Sthembiso Masango (29), a pair of development riders who will be competing for a top 50 finish as well as the Absa African Jersey – another special jersey, this time for the fastest team with an African ID or passport. They will receive full support from Team Land Rover and get to experience every aspect of this world-class event, in the same way as all other professional teams.
A RETURNING MEMBER OF TEAM LAND ROVER THIS YEAR IS MIKE “AMASHOVA” NIXON.
He is one of the four remaining Last Lions – riders who have completed all 13 editions of this gruelling mountain bike race – and brings a wealth of invaluable experience and advice to help all his Land Rover teammates teach the finish line. Nixon will once again be joined by Jasper van Dijk. The Dutchman previously joined Nixon at the 2015 edition.
HEADING UP TEAM LAND ROVER IS RUGBY LEGEND AND FORMER SPRINGBOK JOHN SMIT.
He returns as team captain for 2017, and will once again be joined by long-time friend and cycling partner, Shane Chorley. The duo are seasoned Epic veterans – John boasting three finishes and Shane having completed the race six times – and this year will see them go for a fourth finish as a team, while supporting their fellow team members in the Land Rover squad.
CRICKETING ICON GARY KIRSTEN ALSO JOINS TEAM LAND ROVER THIS YEAR, FOR HIS SECOND ABSA CAPE EPIC.
The former Protea player and coach has a love for mountain biking and endurance sports, and those two passions will come together at this year’s Epic. Joining him is fellow Capetonian, and dealer principal of Jaguar Land Rover N1 City, Riaan Launspach – who completed his first Epic cycle race in 2016. The duo have spent their time training for the Epic in the mountains around Cape Town – but every year’s Epic route changes, to offer riders a new challenge.
TALENTED DEVELOPMENT RIDERS JOIN TEAM LAND ROVER FOR 2017 ABSA CAPE EPIC
Sizwe Mkhasibe (25) and Syanda Masango (24) will team up to compete for the Exxaro Jersey – a special jersey for developing riders who are under 26-years-old. Earlier this year the two development teams joined Team Land Rover at a training camp in Cape Town. This essential preparation for the Absa Cape Epic gave the four youngsters exposure to the experienced Epic veterans – including Mike Nixon