Reid started the 100th stage of the world’s most prestigious mountain-bike stage race in the Outcast special jersey for UCI riders, after teammate Gert Heyns was forced to withdraw on Monday’s Stage 1, due to illness.

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Reid has had an unfortunate run of luck at this year's Cape Epic. Two weeks before the race his original partner, US National XCO Champ, Howard Grotts broke his ribs in training and was forced to withdraw.

The eleventh-hour team of Reid and Heyns were quietly optimistic that they could shake things up, especially in the fierce competition for the Absa African Special Jersey. The young cross-country specialists had started the week off well with a powerful performance at the Prologue at Meerendal on Sunday, where they finished fourth overall to claim the red African jersey.

“On Tuesday's Stage 2 I started in C-batch and went hard from the start to try and get a good day’s racing done,” Reid commented afterward. “However, you don’t get the stimulus when you aren't with the front guys and what actually struck me was how much longer five hours felt today over yesterday. I think it's because I didn’t have the ‘racing’ stimulus – the chatting, reading other riders' body language, responding to attacks or carving singletrack together.’

Reid explained that riding back in the pack felt as though he was, “playing pac-man against himself.”

“Yeah, you can sort of get into it, but after a while there are only one or two Outcasts out there and it gets kind of lonely – sure, you are riding your bike in a beautiful setting, but because you’re not racing, you’re not as emotionally invested in the day as everyone else… The sense of accomplishment is not nearly as big,” he said.

Reid is philosophical about the situation, “this is bike racing and bike racing can be brutal, you do what you can with the cards that you’re dealt,” he said.

Reid made the decision to withdraw from the race to start building toward 2016 African Continental Mountain Bike Championships on 2 April, at Afriski in Lesotho, where he hopes to gather valuable points toward Olympic qualification. With no UCI points on offer to Outcast riders at the Cape Epic, James needs to rejoin the hunt for selection.

“I understand what a privilege it is to ride in the Cape Epic and I want to thank the organisers as well as my sponsors Spur and Specialized for all their support. But there are important races in the next two weeks that are crucial for Rio selection. So I will shift my attention to racing in circles really quickly for an-hour-and-a-half, as opposed to out in the mountains for five hours,” the reigning South African XCO Champion joked.

Reid is adamant he'll return to the Absa Cape Epic to take care of unfinished business. “This event is incredible,” he said. “It really is all that it is made out to be – the pace at the front is brutal and just judging by the [low] number of riders at the sharp end who speak English as a first language, it really is a multi-lingual, international, professional bike race.”

“Lessons learned. A lot of lessons learned. There could be more [if he stayed in the race], but I feel the gains would be marginal,” he said. “I’m disappointed to leave, but I feel like I have enough knowledge loaded in my mind to take on this race properly, with a fighting chance, in a year’s time.”

“You really have to have a good strategy and a lot of experience; and you have to have the right partner and the best support – which I have had this year – to make a go of it, I’m excited for next year already,” Reid concluded.