The Absa Cape Epic is an annual mountain bike stage race held in the Western Cape, South Africa. It has been accredited as hors categorie (beyond categorisation) by the Union Cycliste Internationale.
First staged in 2004, the race typically covers more than 700 kilometres, and lasts eight days - a prologue and seven stages. The Absa Cape Epic attracts elite professional mountain bikers from around the world, who compete in teams of two.
To qualify for a finish, teams have to stay together for the duration of the race. The race is also open to amateurs, who enter a lottery in order to gain a slot. A total of 600 teams take part.
The times taken to finish each stage are aggregated to determine the overall winning team in each category at the end of the race. The course changes every year, but the race has always taken place in the Western Cape. The Absa Cape Epic was described by Bart Brentjens, 1996 Olympic gold medallist in mountain biking and a former Absa Cape Epic winner, as the "Tour de France of mountain biking".
The route starts and finishes in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is redesigned every year. Race week lasts 8 days and typically covers around 700 kilometres. The shortest Absa Cape Epic will be in 2016 at 647 kilometres (402 mi), the longest route being in 2008 at 966 kilometres.
The route originally was a point-to-point race, beginning in Knysna and ending in the winelands of the Western Cape. This format changed in 2009, where riders spent multiple days in each stage location to ensure the route could fully explore the best mountain biking that the region had to offer. This format looks likely to be the way forward for the organisation.