the biggest mountainbike stage race in the world takes place right here in south africa.the race kicked off in 2003 and in the last 8 years has caught peoples attention around the world. due to the fact that this race has become so big it has become a big goal for me to win the race.christoph sauser and i returned for our fourth try this year after we have been so close to winning it in the past before seccumbing to bad luck and incident. this year we were again in the coulours of and specialized bikes we got an added boost in a new sponser 36One Asset management,just days before the event.

prologue,tokai forrest,cape town 27km position 1st the race once again kicked of with a prologue on the mountain slopes of the tokai forrest in cape town.the course had some major climbing coupled with super fun and technical singletrack.we had a great day out and managed to secure the win and a time gap of 1min 40 going into the first long stage. stage 1 tulbagh-tulbagh 89km. the first stage may not have been the longest ever but wow was it hard.with steep technical xc type riding for the first 70km it was hard going .as the course suited us very well suzi and i pushed the pace for most of the day.on the last hard climb with 20km to go we rode away alone and held a minute lead to the swiss stockli team on the finish line.

stage 2 tulbagh-tulbagh 119km stage 2 started just a fraction slower as by now the legs were truly in recovery mode.once the sun came out and we hit the first climb with 1000m of vertical ascent we were back on the the top we were a big group with around 10 teams setting the pace.the day was charactarized by a bunch of short steep climbs from here on and it was on these that more and more teams fell off the the time we hit the last climb we again rode away.on the long tretcherous descent back to the lower valley we rode cautiously and got joined by two teams.merida biking and trek world racing joined us briefely before we attacked them again towards the end.we secured our 3rd stage win and alos stretched our lead.

stage 3 tulbagh-worcester 115km by far the hardest day in this years absa cape epic.altough we didnt have the biggest climbs to contend with we did have the roughest terrain.the specialized epic 29ers we were riding helped us tremendously on the stage and in the end rode away from the field with merida biking the only team to hang to the finish.we gifted them the stage win and consolidated our lead.

stage 4 time trial worcester-worcester 32km my favourite stage of the epic is the time trial and this year was no difference.i had great legs on the day and we managed to catch aal the teams starting ahead of us who were still in the fight for the overall.we secured our fourth stage with no mishaps and again stretched our lead.

stage 5 worcester-oak valley 145km so the longest stage this year turned out to be one of the easiest.for the first ime in this years epic we cruised along in a big bunch for the first 100km.the trek-milka team were off the front in a break away and at one stage the gap was up to 4min.however at the 100km mark we hit the notorious groenlandberg climb and the race exploded.first the bulls put the hammer down followed by the merida biking riders.christoph and i bided our time well and when the other riders slowed we hit the front.we got over the front with merida and then were joined on the long descent by trek-wc.we then attacked the rest with 5km to go and won our 5th stage.our total lead was now up to over 8min.

stage 6 oak valley-oak valley 127km stage 6 was the stage with the most climbing in this years race.with a total of 2700m.this meant a very hard day out and after 5hours of very hard racing we managed another 2nd champion jose hermida and swiss tem mate ralph naef of multivan merida got a gap on us in the last 10km but we still managed to extend our overall lead to just under 11 minutes! the climbing was definitely worth all the climbing on day 6 and it was a day to remember.

stage 7 oak valley-lourensford 65km the final stage is usualy seen as a bit of a celeblatory ride to finish of the tour.however with 1800m of climbing suzi and i remained very was a good thing too as we had our first flat tire of the race very early on and had to chase back to the lead group for most of the days we reached the group we realized that our main rivals,the merida biking team had attacked and were still 4min ahead.we set off after them again and managed to get them within sight with 20km to go.thats where we decided to relax and enjoy our achievement.cruising into lourensford and finally winning the epic was one of my career highlights.the south african support behind this race is tremendous and im very proud to have become the first south african to win. our specialized team crew worked realy hard this week and id like to say a big thanks to dylan van der merwe and pieter guys carried us through!