However, the race was not without its challenges. Despite his calf injury on Stage 5, Tiaan Strauss kept the fighting spirit and managed to finish the race alongside his former Springbok Rugby counterpart and Absa Cape Epic rookie, Corne Krige. Vanessa Haywood had her fair share of medical concerns as she struggled with an asthma attack on Stage 5, but with the support of partner, Michael Mol (whose medical skills came in handy), the pair finished strong. Owen Hannie and Joel Stranksy were by far the strongest pair in the team, but also suffered some minor setbacks when Owen had to repair a flat tyre during Stage 6 and Joel took a tumble down the single track on Stage 7. The pair still finished just outside the top 100 on GC and placed at number 70 in the men’s category.

“Each day had its own challenges,” comments Team Absa manager and five-time Absa Cape Epic finisher, Ernst Viljoen. “The route was very tough this year and it is a great achievement for the whole team to have finished the race. The team put in a lot of training hours and supported each other throughout the last week. It was a privilege for me to guide the team again this year and they can be very proud of themselves for conquering the 2013 Absa Cape Epic.”

Letshego Moshoeu will go down in the history books as one of the first three black women to complete the Absa Cape Epic in its 10th year history. She came in 42 places behind the Exxaro PwC Academy 2 ladies team of Rozalia Kubwana and Alisha Myers. However, this great achievement will come second in her list of highlights of the race after her long-time boyfriend and Absa Cape Epic finisher, Gugu Zulu, was waiting for her at the finish line on his knee and asked her to marry him.

The team successfully reached their goal to raise a cumulative amount of R 144 000 for charity. In addition to this, Absa has generously added R 50 000 to the allocation, to bring the total up to R 194 000.

“Absa is very proud to have been part of yet another successful Absa Cape Epic, this being our eighth consecutive year of partnering with the event. We were confident that Team Absa 2013 would represent us well on the course and they did not disappoint us. The team persevered through the challenging route and occasional injuries and their mental strength was something to be admired. They were a true representation of the human spirit,” says Lynn Naude, General Manager Absa Sponsorships and Events.

The overall team standings are as follows:

· Joel Stransky and Owen Hannie: Overall GC: 109, total time: 40:34.25,1

· Clayton Duckworth and Janez Vermeiren: Overall GC: 176, total time: 43:40.49,8

· Tiaan Strauss and Corne Krige: Overall GC: 190, total time: 44:21.33,2

· Vanessa Haywood and Michael Mol: Overall GC: 302, total time: 48:52.35,2

· Andre Ross and Gugu Zulu: Overall GC: 458, total time: 56:50.24,2

· Ernst Viljoen and Letshego Moshoeu: Overall GC: 471, total time: 57:37.20,7

Owen Hannie (left) and Joel Stransky (right) after finishing the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, South Africa on the 24 March 2013

Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Corne Krige leads team-mate Tian Strauss during stage 6 of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Wellington to Stellenbosch, South Africa on the 23 March 2013

Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

An emotional Venessa Haywood at the finish line of the final stage (stage 7) of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Stellenbosch to Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, South Africa on the 24 March 2013

Photo by Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS