Dr Evil creates most challenging stage ever
The dramatic new route of the eighth edition of the Absa Cape Epic presented by adidas seems to be more challenging this year than any of the previous events, if rider comments are anything to go by.
The route, which changes significantly each year, leads the 1 200 cyclists through vast distances of virgin territory, previously untouched by the race. With its challenging and exhilarating landscapes, the stage locations of Saronsberg (Tulbagh), Worcester and Oak Valley awaited the most prestigious mountain bike stage race in the world, before riders again finish at the Lourensford Wine Estate as has been tradition for the past 5 years.
Says Kevin Vermaak, Director and Founder of the Absa Cape Epic: “The Absa Cape Epic has again selected some of the best terrain that the Western Cape has to offer. Our route designer, Leon Evans or as he is best known amongst riders, Dr Evil, has yet again found the perfect balance between exciting trails, challenging terrain and wider vistas in the pursuit of the ultimate mountain biking experience.”
Dr Evil himself, Leon Evans, admits it is his mission to ensure that riders do not find the route an easy ride every year. “This year there are shorter stages compared to the years before, so I had to make the actual route more intensive. It’s very important that this race is challenging as that’s why the cyclists enter. And they say that every year.”
He says that he does not necessarily try and make each year’s route more difficult than the previous ones. “But I have to make sure the route lives up to the reputation that the Absa Cape Epic has developed, which is that it’s the most challenging mountain bike stage race in the world.”
Leon Evans, also known as "Dr Evil", Route Designer of the Absa Cape Epic
According to Evans, today’s (Stage 3) race is the most challenging stage of this year’s Cape Epic. “It will take the cyclists the longest to complete as it’s rocky and bumpy. No matter how badly the participants will want to pick up speed, they won’t be able to. This stage requires slow riding and technical skill.”
Evans says that it takes him about 11 months (on and off) to design the route. “Three weeks before the race the route is finalised. It’s a back and forth process; just when you think you have your route sorted something changes or something comes up. The organisers decide on the locations and I start from there. Most of the time they tell me where they want the route to start and finish and if there are any specific places they want to go to. I then start looking at my options to come up with something. Designing the route isn’t a problem; it’s finding the land owners that are sometimes difficult. Many of these owners don’t stay on the properties that we would like to make a part of Absa Cape Epic history.”
Dr Evil is also sponsored by Toyota, as he explains: “They sponsor my vehicle. I’m currently driving a land cruiser for the duration of the Absa Cape Epic. Without this vehicle, there wouldn’t be a Cape Epic and no Dr Evil – that’s a fact! I’ve tried some of the other vehicles, but this one is the best. Every time I’ve got to go onto the route, I’m so grateful for this Toyota. So a sincere thanks to them.”