The two former US Postal teammates, riding as Team Absa – WBR, will take a healthy one-minute lead into Stage 1 after completing the 20km Prologue on the slopes of Table Mountain within Table Mountain National Park in 50 minutes 15,9 seconds.

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George Hincapie and Christian Van de Velde during the Prologue of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in Cape Town, South Africa on the 18th March 2018. Photo by Andrew McFadden/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Just 59,6 seconds behind the two former professional road riders are Italian Massimo Debertolis and Czech Republic’s Ondrej Fojtik (Wilier Force 7C 2) and then a tightly bunched pack of three teams all sitting within 15 seconds of each other.

The all-South African pairing of Nic Lamond and Paris Basso (Podium-Today’s Plan) are third, 1.30 back and less than a second ahead of Erik Dekker and Maikel Govaarts from Holland (Dutch Masters). Just 15 seconds further back are Australians Brad Clarke and Rohin Adams (Mornington Cycles/Trush).

The Grand Masters category for riders over 50 years old is led by 2016 winners Robert Sim and former Giro d’Italia stage winner Udo Boelts from Germany who finished in a time of 53.32,0.

Sim and Boelts are 2.52,5 ahead of 2017 champion Barti Bucher and his novice partner Hans Juerg Gerber (Meerendal CBC 2), while former Sharks rugby player Jeremy Thomson and seven-time Dusi Canoe Marathon winner Martin Dreyer are a surprise third.

In the Virgin Active Mixed category, it was the Argentine team of Agustina Maria Apaza and Cesar Lettoli (Merida Argentina) that blew the field away in their debut, finishing over four minutes ahead of the second-placed team. South Africa’s Nicky Giliomee and Brennan Anderson (Journey by Junto) were 4:04,9 behind them with Australian pair, Briony Nicks and Wayne Dickinson (Cycle Northside) home in third, 5:08,8 behind the leaders.