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Dubbed "The Tour de France" of mountain biking by 1996 Olympic gold medalist Bart Brentjens, the Absa Cape Epic covers a grueling 485 miles over 8 days including a prologue and 7 stages of up to 90 miles. The route winds its way through the remote farmlands and rugged mountains of South Africa's Western Cape province. Attracting national champions, Olympic champions and world champions from cross-country to marathon and even a few road cyclists like Jan Ulrich's former teammate Udo Bolts, the line up is a veritable who's who of mountain biking. A total of 604 two-rider teams started the 2012 race, with 481 teams finishing. The full gamut of conditions were on display this year—from searing heat to wind storms, torrential rain and hypothermia—forcing 93 riders to complete the event solo after losing their partners to exhaustion or injury.
This year's race was dominated by Team 36One- Songo-Specialized's Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander, with the Swiss-South African pair defending their title by winning 7 out of 8 days thanks to a remarkable run free of mechanical problems. Only the second-placed Kevin Evans and David George of Team 360Life could take a stage off them. In the ladies category, Esther Suss and Sally Bigham were comfortable winners, with Bart Brentjens and Jan Weevers taking the Masters and Ariane and Erik Kleinhans completely dominant in the Mixed.