Six teams of two include professional sportsmen, endurance athletes and standout personalities…
Land Rover has announced its star-studded entry list for the 2019 Absa Cape Epic – the world’s toughest eight-day mountain bike race held annually in the Western Cape.
Leading the charge when the team of 12 line up at the start on 17 March will be the husband and wife pairing of Martin and Jeannie Dreyer. Martin is a seven-time Dusi marathon champion, corporate adventure guide and motivational speaker, while Jeannie has multiple mountain biking titles to her name including The Munga, Wines2Wales, 36ONE MTB Challenge, Hill2Hill, Tour de Krantz and the Tankwa Trek.
The two adventure athletes met on the Land Rover-sponsored G4 Challenge in 2007 and will be a force in the Mixed Category for male/female teams. Together the pair have completed 11 Epics.
Another potent duo will be the Women’s pairing of Hannele Steyn and Anneke Whelan. Hannele is one of only four riders in the world to have completed all 15 previous Epics, and the is the only woman to have done so – earning her the title of Last Lioness. This year, for her 16thattempt, Steyn is partnered with Whelan who’s entered for the second time. Anneke’s a lawyer by day, but enjoys mountain biking as her main hobby outside of her firm.
Last Lion Mike Nixon has also completed all 15 past Epics, and for the 2019 edition will line up alongside plastic surgeon Shane Barker in the Grand Masters class. Adventurist Nixon has reached all seven summits including Mount Everest and travels with humanitarian hero Kingsley Holgate on various Land Rover expeditions delivering aid across all of Africa.
Capetonian Barker, an adventurist in his own right, has completed four Otter Trail runs and enjoys surfing, waterskiing, paddling and kite boarding when he’s not performing cosmetic and reconstructive nips and tucks on his clientele. This will be Shane’s fourth Absa Cape Epic.
Adventure sports specialists Clinton Mackintosh and Mark Collins will compete together in the Masters category. Clinton, contesting his seventh Epic, developed his pedal power as an elite road cyclist but switched to adventure racing almost ten years ago. His teammate, Collins, is an Absa Cape Epic rookie, but comes armed with experience from expedition racing, climbing, canoeing, trail running and kayaking.
As usual Land Rover has unified the sports of mountain biking and rugby, with two teams featuring professional rugby players – one retired and one at the top of his game.
John Smit has swopped studded boots for clip-in cleats and for 2019 will partner businessman and Cape Epic regular Shane Chorley. The former rugby player, who led the Springboks to victory in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, will ride in his fifth Epic next year. Shane might be a business executive by day, but can be considered an Absa Cape Epic veteran with eight completions under his belt.
Frenchman Freddie Michalak has been recruited for the second rugby-based Land Rover team in which he’ll ride alongside his South African buddy Jesse Wilson. Freddie, full name Frédéric, once played for the Sharks in South Africa but currently plays for Lyon OU in the Top 14. The Epic rookie is an ambassador for Land Rover France.
Michalak will pair up with his South African friend Jesse Wilson, who has two Absa Cape Epics to his name. Wilson is an adventure sports enthusiast and Ironman triathlete.
The 16thedition of the Absa Cape Epic will start on 17 March, 2019 and finish eight days later after a grueling journey through the Western Cape landscape. The race format requires two-person teams to remain within two minutes of each other at all times to prevent time penalties, and the field is limited to a maximum 650 teams.
Event organisers will make a route announcement on 26 September, 2018 with more detail about the expected challenges, total race distance and accumulated climb.
Follow the Land Rover team on social media using the #UnstoppableSpirit and #Untamed hashtags, and at @LandRoverZA.