The trophy is the latest initiative to raise the profile of women’s cycling at the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. The Absa Cape Epic has had many firsts, paying women the same prize money as the men, creating a separate start group for the elites and attaining UCI points for the category.
These moves have resulted in an increase in the quality of racing in the women’s elite category, with the race attracting the world’s best marathon and cross country athletes. The trophy for the top all-African team overall is a fitting tribute to Steyn, who won the Women’s category in the second Cape Epic in 2005 riding with South African Zoe Frost.
Not only has Steyn won the Women’s category, she is also one of just four riders to have finished all 14 Cape Epics thus far. She is the only women in this elite group of Last Lions, which includes Craig Beech, John Gale and Mike Nixon. Steyn’s endurance and love for the Cape Epic persuaded the race organisers to name the new trophy in her honour. Pretoria artist Kgaogelo Mashilo’s design includes the Adinkra symbol of the Wawa Aba, the seed from wawa tree from West Africa.
“The seed from the tree is renowned to be extremely hard and strong,” said Mashilo. “The symbol of the seed, which is very distinctive, speaks of toughness and persistence. It is a really tough seed. I wanted to use that to show that female Absa Cape Epic riders have the same toughness of the seed.
The trophy will be bronze mounted in a hard wood, said Mashilo.
“We are passionate about women’s cycling and always strive to uplift the category,” said Sarah Harrop, head of marketing and communication. “There have been several changes made over the years to ensure we build up women’s racing. When we made the prize money equal, many races followed suit, not just here but worldwide. The separate start for the elite women gives their event more prestige and improves the standard of racing.
“We wanted a trophy that would touch on the strength of women at the Cape Epic, and this new trophy and category is vital in promoting African cycling. Rozalia Kubwana of the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy became the first black African women to finish the Epic in 2013. She has now joined the Amabubesi club and represented South Africa at the 2013 World Championships.”
The Burry Stander Memorial Trophy is presented to the top all-African men’s team and has become a highly-competitive race within a race, with many of the South African teams targeting it specifically each year. The Hannele Steyn Trophy is set to become a category that will be hotly contested.