The Absa Cape Epic is often known as the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. It provides the ultimate off-road cycling challenge, across eight days and 650 kilometres, of rugged and remote racing. Akin to the Dakar Rally in motorsport and a mountain biking allegory for the Tour de France, cycling’s most famous event, the Absa Cape Epic tests man and machine to their limit. Behind the scenes, it is also a monumental logistical challenge for the race organisers, the Epic Series, which is where Aramex’s comprehensive logistics and transport solutions will facilitate smooth operations. The global company that takes pride in being able to fulfil the outsourcing of all transportation and logistics needs will also be delivering innovative rider services to the teams taking part in the 2024 event, and beyond.
Setup for the Absa Cape Epic requires the establishment of vast race villages to provide accommodation, ablutions, and meals for 1,450 riders and nearly as many crew members for the duration of the race. Each edition of the event typically features four race villages. The Prologue venue often does not offer accommodation, while the following three provide all the services riders, their support staff and the event’s personnel require. The pitching of Bedouin tents, marquees and custom-built pop-up venues for the sponsors – which include one of South Africa’s largest banks, Absa – begins a month before the race gets underway.
In 2024 the racing will begin in Lourensford Wine Estate, in Somerset West, with a short Prologue time trial, on Sunday, 17 March. The riders, who take part in teams of two, will then be shuttled to Saronsberg Wine Estate, in Tulbagh, 120 kilometres to the north. From Saronsberg they undertake two days of out-and-back racing before a transition stage crosses the Hawequas Mountain in a southerly direction to the third race village, in Wellington. Two marathon days in the mountains and vineyards of Wellington follow, ahead of another transfer by bus to Stellenbosch for the final two stages of the race, which concludes on Sunday, 24 March.
Aramex’s logistical expertise will help the event not only build their race villages but also transport tons of equipment between warehouses and venues, as well as provide warehousing for provisions, from perishable goods to international riders’ bags. For the duration of the event, Aramex will be working day and night to ensure that the 20th edition of the Absa Cape Epic is a memorable one for all riders, spectators and event partners. “We are looking forward to the challenge that the Absa Cape Epic presents,” George van der Merwe, Country Manager of Aramex South Africa, said. “Not only does the partnership present us a great opportunity to showcase our capabilities, in one of the most difficult environments, but the lead-up to and the race itself allows us to stress test systems and resources. In 2023 the weather threw a massive curve ball at the event and torrential rain left vehicles stranded in muddy fields in the Lourensford race village. We aren’t necessarily hoping for a repeat of the rain and mud, or for extreme heat to cause its challenges, but I know we will face unforeseen difficulties and I know our staff will be able to showcase their creative problem-solving skills.”
“A significant part of our partnership, which runs for two years initially with the option to extend beyond that, is for Aramex to play a bigger part in the overall business of the Absa Cape Epic by providing warehouse solutions to the Absa Cape Epic,” van der Merwe explained. “Aramex echoes the race’s full-service abilities. Just as riders are taken care of from the start in Lourensford to the finish in Stellenbosch, Aramex can deliver logistic solutions from shipping to warehousing and on to delivery to the customers. We already have a superb working relationship with several of South Africa’s largest cycling brands and fellow sponsors.”
Along with the logistics and warehousing partnership, Aramex will also assume the role of title sponsor of the women’s category at the Absa Cape Epic. This sees the world’s best women’s riders battling for the orange CIOVITA jersey and the adrenaline molecule-inspired trophy, designed by Isabel Mertz. “The Aramex Women’s competition is far more than just a marketing opportunity for Aramex. When we first started negotiations, the women’s category was a must for me to include in this partnership, as we want to continue the efforts that have been made over the past few years to grow Women’s cycling. In doing this, it’s imperative to promote and ensure equality in mountain biking,” noted Aramex’s Global Commercial Marketing Manager, Miguel Netto. “We share the same values as a brand and as a business, thus making it a natural fit for us to play our part on this big stage. Since 2014 the race has paid equal prize money to the winning men’s and women’s teams. The prize purse that the elite women compete for in the general classification battle is R867 000 while a further R149 600 is paid out for their daily results across the course of the race.”
“Equality extends from prize money to media coverage and has helped make heroines of riders like Annika Langvad, Ariane Lüthi, Candice Lill, Mariske Strauss, Vera Looser and Kim le Court,” Netto added. “I know that with Aramex’s support, the women’s competition will grow from strength to strength, especially in 2025 after the current Olympic cycle concludes with Paris 2024. That said, we are looking forward to an exciting race in March next year already.”
“We are proud to be associated with such an iconic event like the Absa Cape Epic. Our entire team (Globally and locally) is behind this partnership, and we are confident that we can take the event to new heights, by rocking the event experience but most importantly, rocking the rider experience with several key rider touch-points which we will activate on to try and deliver the riders from start to finish in the best possible means.”
“Every rider in the 2024 race will benefit from Aramex’s involvement. From rider bag services, which Aramex will offer before and during the event, to daily start and waterpoint chute drop bags service, in which riders can store their jackets and additional clothing during the stage,” promised Aramex’s Marketing Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Ryan Jones. “With us also being the sponsor of the women’s category, we naturally wanted to take the pro-rider technical zones support on each stage to the next level, so we have come up with some exciting ways to provide an even better service to our professional riders too,” says Jones. “Aramex has looked into various touchpoints before, during and after the event, to ensure that we deliver not only a great event but also give the riders, the best chance to get to the finish line in Stellenbosch.”
To find out more about the Epic Series – which includes races in Andorra, Croatia and Switzerland, as well as in South Africa – in general and the Absa Cape Epic in particular, visit www.epic-series.com. Mountain biking fans, and those simply curious about the sport, can watch the live broadcast from 17 – 24 March 2024 on the race website: www.epic-series.com/capeepic. For more information on Aramex and the services of the leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions visit www.aramex.com.