The 12 members of Team Land Rover are getting ready for the 2017 Absa Cape Epic taking place between 19 and 26 March in Cape Town. Over 1 300 ridding veterans, athletes, dealers and Land Rover customers are expected to participate.
Over seven days, seven stages and 691 kilometres, these unruffled heroes will put one another and their bodies to the ultimate test as they aim to conquer the world’s toughest mountain bike race before crossing the finishing line at the exclusive Val de Vie estate.
“Land Rover supports outdoor adventurers with vehicles that have capability and composure on all terrains, and that’s exactly what the Epic demands of competitors – it’s a natural fit for the brand,” said Lisa Mallett, Director of Marketing at Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. “For this year’s Epic we invited some of the toughest sportsmen and mountain biking enthusiasts who share a passion for off-road adventure, and embody the spirit of going Above and Beyond.”
Heading up Team Land Rover is rugby legend and former Springbok John Smit. He returns as team captain for 2017, and will once again be joined by long-time friend and cycling partner, Shane Chorley. The duo are seasoned Epic veterans – John boasting three finishes and Shane having completed the race six times – and this year will see them go for a fourth finish as a team, while supporting their fellow team members in the Land Rover squad.
A returning member of Team Land Rover this year is Mike “Amashova” Nixon. He is one of the four remaining Last Lions – riders who have completed all 13 editions of this gruelling mountain bike race – and brings a wealth of invaluable experience and advice to help all his Land Rover teammates teach the finish line. Nixon will once again be joined by Jasper van Dijk. The Dutchman previously joined Nixon at the 2015 edition.
The Land Rover flag will also be flown by 1995 Rugby World Cup-winner, Joel Stransky, who will be going for his eighth Epic finish this year. He is teaming up with fellow former Springbok, Jeremy Thompson, who boasts five finishes at the event. Meanwhile, the pairing of Butch James and Morne van Vuuren will see South African rugby and cricket fans finally seeing which discipline can boast about having the most focussed and determined athletes.
Cricketing icon Gary Kirsten also joins Team Land Rover this year, for his second ABSA Cape Epic. The former Protea player and coach has a love for mountain biking and endurance sports, and those two passions will come together at this year’s Epic. Joining him is fellow Capetonian, and dealer principal of Jaguar Land Rover N1 City, Riaan Launspach – who completed his first Epic cycle race in 2016. The duo have spent their time training for the Epic in the mountains around Cape Town – but every year’s Epic route changes, to offer riders a new challenge.
The ABSA Cape Epic sponsorship has also provided an opportunity for Land Rover to identify customers who live their passion for the brand, especially through cycling. This is seen in the pairing of Anton Lume – a passionate cyclist, Land Rover owner and customer – and Gerhard Moolman, the sales manager at Jaguar Land Rover Sandton.
“Just finishing this extremely testing race is an incredible feat of capability, and the journey is the adventure,” said Mallett. “It’s inspiring to see the calibre of athletes representing Land Rover this year. We’re excited to see them in action and wish them the best for this year’s race.”