Mountain biking is a high-risk, high-reward sport that’s growing fast in terms of global popularity. The annual ABSA Cape Epic, the world’s premier mountain bike stage race, starts on Sunday in South Africa’s Western Cape province, having attracted over 600 two-rider teams ranging from Average Joes, to the world’s top pro’s.
The eight-day race offers a unique opportunity for committed amateurs to line up alongside World and Olympic champions to tackle one of the toughest sporting challenges on the planet. The Cape Epic takes participants over a total distance of 698 kilometres with an accumulated 15 650 metres of vertical ascent through some of Africa’s most unforgiving terrain.
The Cape Epic celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, starting at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville on Sunday, 17 March and finishing at Lourensford Wine Estate, Somerset West on Sunday 24 March. Lining up on the start line on Sunday are some of Oakley’s highest profile mountain bike athletes, including current Olympic Champion, Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) and current World Champion, Nino Schurter (SUI).
Also tackling Sunday’s short 22km prologue time trial stage with full trust in Oakley’s mountain bike-specific eyewear are Asian champion, Kohei Yamamoto (JPN), former European champion, Florian Vogel (SUI), London Olympics bronze medalist, Marco Fontana (ITA) and current German champion, Manuel Fumic.
“Yes, Oakley does sponsor some of the world’s most successful racers and we’re expecting to see our product at the front of the Cape Epic race on a daily basis; but what’s encouraging is that there is such a high percentage of amateur mountain bike racers that choose to use Oakley eyewear,” said Seth Hulley, Oakley Sports Marketing Manager.
Among those amateurs are mountain bike racers from over 30 countries as well as South African celebrities, including District 9 actress and model, Vanessa Haywood, Doctor Michael Mol, who hosts the TV show, Hello Doctor, former Springbok rugby captains, Corne Krige and Tiaan Strauss and Olympic rowing gold medalists, James Thompson and Matthew Brittain.
“Oakley’s range of sportswear frames as well as optically-correct, condition-appropriate lenses ensures mountain bikers are able to choose the right product for their needs,” added Hulley.
“Travelling at speed on uneven, unpredictable surfaces for over six hours a day in heat or rain makes seeing where you’re going – or where you want to go – essential. Add to that the optimal UVA and UVB protection our lenses offer and the option to customise frame colour combinations, puts Oakley up there as the clear eyewear leader in the mountain biking market.”
Oakley is the official eyewear sponsor of the Cape Epic, bringing a new dimension to the event with market-leading product and innovative experiential initiatives that will benefit both participants and supporters and boost the status of the event.
Oakley will once again offer on-route eyewear cleaning stations for all participants, regardless of their eyewear brand. Oakley-wearing riders will get additional exclusive access to hydrophobic coating of their eyewear, a process that adds a moisture-repellent layer to the lens.