One half of last year's Cape Epic winning team, Howard Grotts, has announced his withdrawal from the 2019 race due to illness. His partner, Jaroslav Kulhavy, will now race with 2x Under 23 World Champion and Stellenbosch World Cup winner Sam Gaze instead. The pair raced World Cups together last year as part of the Specialized Racing team but will be racing the Cape Epic under the Investec-Songo-Specialized banner instead.
The Cape Epic is described as the Tour de France of mountain biking and takes place over eight days in South Africa. Competitors race in teams of two and Kulhavy and Grotts won last year's race by more than 9 minutes ahead of the Canyon/Topeak team of Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek. This year's race is 700km long with 15,000m of climbing and takes place March 17-24.
Alan Hatherly, the current Under 23 World Champion who was supposed to be partnering with Gaze, will now be racing with fellow South African and training partner, Matt Beers from Team NAD Pro MTB. The Specialized pairing will be racing in support of Kulhavy and Gaze but will also have their eyes on the coveted African Jersey, awarded to the best-placed African team.
The Investec-Songo-Specialized team will also be fielding a strong women's pairing of Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen, who will also be strong contenders for the win. They are set to arrive in Cape Town early next week, after taking on the Italian classic road race Strade Bianche this coming Saturday. 2018 Cape Epic recap