The 2019 Cape Epic was one for the record books, according to Sport24.
It featured more metres of climbing per kilometre than any previous edition. Off the bike, it broke its own viewership records, with mountain biking fans tuning in from around the globe to view the live broadcast over 1 500 000 times during the eight days of racing.
Of the 1 380 riders who rolled off the start line at the University of Cape Town, 1 273 earned a finisher's medal at Val de Vie Estate. That is a completion rate of 92%. The historical average is 86% (2004-2018), which indicates that despite the climbing-heavy route, the general level of preparation was higher than ever. In fact, 2019's finisher percentage was up to a new highest level, by one percentage point from 2018.
Cycling has long been the scene of a technological arms race. Mountain biking and the Cape Epic are not exempt from that trend. 57% of the field purchased new bikes for the challenges of the Untamed African MTB Race and 12% of the field listed their bikes at being valued between R100 000 and R110 000. Unsurprisingly, the number of riders participating on full suspension bikes grew from 94% to 96% in 2019.
SRAM dominated the drivetrain count, claiming a sizeable majority by powering 76% of the bikes in the race. The question of riding single, double or triple chainrings had a very clear winner. Single chainring come out on top with 88% of riders opting for a maximum of 12 gears to get them through the 624 kilometres and 16 650m of vertical ascent.
As any rider will attest, a good pair of sunglasses goes a lot further than just being functional. Oakley was the eyewear brand of choice, ensuring clarity of vision for 58% of eyes, which were staring out at the trails of the Western Cape.
The most fiercely contested battle, however, was that of the bike manufacturers. For the third year in a row, Specialized topped the charts. The Big Red S proved the choice for almost one third of riders in the field. SCOTT claimed second place and Cannondale third. Interestingly, these three brands also had the most amount of category and special jersey wins between them.
89% of the field trained for the Cape Epic using both a heart rate monitor and a GPS head unit. Power meters were less widely adopted though, with 54% of the riders basing their training on power data, and 2019 was the first year that power meters have crossed the 50% mark.