• Jurgen van den Broeck set to ride the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race after retiring from the road. (Getty)Source: Getty
The Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race continues to attract former road cyclists with Belgian Jurgen Van den Broeck and Dutchman Erik Dekker the latest to sign on for the African adventure in 2018.
Cycling Central

Absa Cape Epic
11 Dec 2017 - 9:29 AM  UPDATED 11 Dec 2017 - 9:32 AM

Van den Broek and Dekker will hope to emulate Cadel Evans and George Hincapie who this year rekindled their BMC road partnership to win the master's category, competing against the likes of recently retired Joaquim Rodriguez who paired with mountain bike legend Jose Hermida.

Evans and Hincapie, the 2017 masters champions, have yet to announce their intentions for the 18-25 March 2018 event but the category is fast becoming one to watch and rivalling the elite ranks in terms of global interest.

Cape Epic victory for Evans and Hincapie
Cadel Evans and George Hincapie took their Tour de France formula to a new playing field and came away with another winning result.

Van den Broeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), who officially retires from the road on 31 December, will race alongside his brother Kurt with the goal of enjoying the adventure while hoping for a result.

“Taking part in the Absa Cape Epic was something I have always dreamed of doing after my retirement because I really love cycling and staying in good shape, he said.

"My primary goals are to really enjoy the race and the country because I have been told that South Africa is really beautiful, but I will also be trying for a good result.

“I really do not have experience in real mountain biking. I do a lot in Belgium, but that is totally different to real racing. That difference makes the challenge so nice."

Dekker, who ended his stellar road career in 2006 with four Tour de France stage wins a highlight, has been putting in some quality time on the dirt, including racing in Australia at the Crocodile Trophy, and should enter the Absa Cape Epic with serious intentions and a partner to match.

Dekker breaks two Croc race records on Stage 5
Former Tour de France stage winner Erik Dekker became the first amateur and oldest rider to win a stage of the MEPT-Crocodile Trophy.

"In July I became Dutch XCO (cross country) champion in the Masters category," he said. "After that, I rode my first multiple stage race in Poland. I loved it, although it was very hard.

"Then in September, I participated in the Crocodile Trophy, which was my big goal for 2017. I finished third overall and won in the Master's category and I managed to win a stage, even beating the elite riders.

"Following the Crocodile Trophy Maikel Govaarts (Dutch Masters XCO mountain biker and 2016 Absa Cape Epic finisher) asked me to ride with him in the 2018 Absa Cape Epic.”

Cycling Central will feature daily online highlights of the 658km 2018 Absa Cape Epic.