Photo credit: Ewald Sadie.

This spectator friendly race will take place on Wednesday 9 March. It is seen as an unofficial warm-up race for the Absa Cape Epic giving supporters a chance to see some of the world’s best riders in action before they get down to business at the Epic.

The uniqueness of this event comes from the fact that riders from all over the world race through the streets of Kayamandi – an informal settlement on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Locals get the opportunity to see riders go past their front doors and the international riders get to ride on a “course” like no other in the world. Last year’s champions were Jaroslav Kulhavy and Annika Langvad.

The goal of the MTO Champions Race is to primarily raise awareness but also funds for – brainchild of multiple world champion Christoph Sauser and Kayamandi local Songo Fipaza. This organisation has been growing in stature since it was started in 2008. is a social development programme that provides sport and educational support to the children of Kayamandi. The programme provides a safe place to play and grow, establishing values of accountability and responsibility, while teaching goal setting and instilling in children, the ability to dream and work to achieve their goals.

Photo credit: Ewald Sadie.

This year MTO Forestry will sponsor the Champions Race. The MTO group has come on board as not only the new sponsor of the event, but also as a long term partner of the program through their MTO cares initiative. MTO Forestry is the rebrand of Cape Pine that owns timber plantations from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth – including Jonkershoek, Tokai, Grabouw and many other favourite local mountain biking destinations. They are the driving force behind the rebuild of the destroyed MTB trails as well as the creation of an extensive trail network in Jonkershoek.

“ ‘Care first’ is a core value of ours and forms the basis of how we conduct business, going well beyond the minimum standards. MTO believes that it is important to give back to the communities and environments in which we operate and this has become entrenched in the way we operate on a daily basis. We are committed to sustainable forestry, recognising our social and environmental responsibilities whilst also ensuring our economic sustainability and the wellbeing of our people,” said Lawrence Polkinghorne, CEO of the MTO Group.

Photo credit: Ewald Sadie.

The men’s race is invitation only, while the women and kids’ races (U14 & U18) are open. For more information go to or email