ccs-41808-0-07907100-1384851641.jpgImage credits: Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS
Says Alan Cameron, Managing Director of Sasol Oil: “We’re delighted to be sponsoring the legendary Absa Cape Epic. This grueling race demands exceptional performance from all riders, regardless of their gender. We believe the prize money should reflect this and we’re therefore very proud to be increasing the 2014 women’s prize, to equal to that of the men.”

Kevin Vermaak, founder of the Absa Cape Epic, adds: “I believe prize money lends credibility to a professional sport. Even just a few years ago, a few hundred thousand rand was a big pay-out for mountain biking – not only in South Africa, but for mountain biking all over the world. I'm happy that with the help of our sponsors, we have been able to consistently and substantially increase the prize money at the Absa Cape Epic, which in turn stimulates other MTB races to also increase their prize money, and thereby increase professional mountain bikers’ earnings. South Africa must be the only country in the world where road cyclists switch to mountain biking because they can potentially earn more off-road. I'm proud of the role we have played in uplifting the professionalism of our sport in South Africa.

Reigning World Marathon Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå reckons this is great news for all women cyclists. “It’s fantastic when a very popular event such as the Absa Cape Epic decides to have the same prize money for men and women. I promised myself (and Kevin Vermaak) many years ago that I wouldn’t participate in leading marathon races where the prize purse for men and women weren’t equal. This announcement by the organisers of the Absa Cape Epic is important for the sport in general and I hope other organisers follow suit.” Dahle Flesjå won the women's cross-country gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games and is a multiple World Champion. She has won six World Championships and six European Championships.

The race will once again see 1 200 riders in the start chute in 2014. Concludes Vermaak: “Even if we have all the world champions on the start line, the race remains achievable for anyone that sets his or her mind to it. It’s a unique pro-am sports event, where amateurs from around the world can race alongside the world’s best. And the amateurs’ finisher medals are just as highly valued as the winners gold medal,” Vermaak concludes.