This off-season seemed like it just flew by. For many of us in the Northern hemisphere, winter seems to be maintaining an icy grip, but it’s bright and sunny here in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This is the home of the legendary Cape Epic, and we are looking forward to a brand new World Cup season.
That said, this seemingly idyllic land is facing some very real and tough problems this year. Due to a population boom in Cape Town and the surrounding areas, a severe drought has caused reservoirs to start drying up. Most accommodations are asking guests to limit showers to two minutes, not dirty an excess amount of towels, and to be generally conscientious of one's personal water consumption. Teams have had to ship in huge quantities of water to keep hydrated in this heat. It would seem a poor choice to hold a race here, but this problem wasn't looming so large when the venue was chosen. Once the UCI, teams, and manufacturers commit to a race, they can't just walk away. There is a lot of money that goes into to getting a team to these more exotic locations, and the wheels are set into motion early.
So, here we are. Although our hotel pool is taking a hit as a pre-shower rinse station, the crew down here in Stellenbosch has done a great job putting together the track for round one of the XC World Cup. This course has an excellent mix of gnarly technical sections and hard power sections. It's going to be fast-paced racing considering the dry conditions. The course measures 4.4 kilometers with 180 meters of climbing. Race laps will likely be five for the Women and six for the men. Let's take a look at some of the important features of this course with Trek Factory Racing's Anton Cooper. You may notice a few changes on his ride, but rest assured that we will dive more into that and other exciting tech for this opening round.