“People around the world were obviously ready to press the ‘submit’ button when they opened at 3pm,” said race CEO Lynn Naudé. “Seconds later they had all been taken.”

Those who missed out on an early bird entry can apply through the lottery system, which opened as the early bird process closed and runs until May 30, 2016. There will be two separate lottery process - one for international riders and another for South African residents.

Professional riders can apply for a wildcard entry if they hold a valid UCI racing license and have appropriate racing qualifications.

Those riders wishing to support one of the official charities, can buy a charity entry and thereby support a good cause. Entries are also available for media on request, but are limited.

Lastly, Absa Cape Epic volunteers receive a guaranteed entry to the following year’s race.

Successful lottery entrants will be notified at the beginning of June, and can start their training programmes in anticipation of next year’s race. The cost is R67 900 per team for local entrants and USD 5 490 for internationals.

Those interested can register for the lottery on the website.

Entries for the first ever Cape Epic in 2004 sold out in three days. The next year they were all snapped up in four hours and 51 minutes. In 2010 the early bird system was introduced - selling out in less time each year.

The 2017 event will take place from 19 to 26 March.

The South African lottery is available to South African residents with a valid SA ID number. The lottery opens immediately after the Early Bird entries sell out, and closes on 30 May. South Africans will pay the SA Rand entry fee.

The International lottery for all riders without an SA ID number also opens immediately after the Early Bird entries are sold out, and closes on 30 May.