World class rings of glory: Olympians on trails
As the pinnacle of the Epic Series the Absa Cape Epic attracts the finest mountain bikers from around the world. It is a race of champions and Olympians. Indeed, in the 18th edition we have no less than 20 Olympians, including the Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists from the Atlanta 1996 XCO event, the first time mountain biking was in the Olympics. Bart Brentjens, Thomas Frischknecht and Miguel Martinez are all enjoying the amazing trails around Stellenbosch.
Here, in no particular order, are the other Olympians in the race:
Brentjens not only won a gold in 1996, but also has a bronze medal from 2004.
He won the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games to go with his bronze in the inaugural event in 1996.
The two-time Absa Cape Epic Champion has a full complement of Olympic medals, winning the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, silver in 2012 and bronze in 2008.
The five-time Absa Cape Epic Champion won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
One half of current CM.com Women’s category Orange leader jerseys holders, NinetyOne-songo-Specialized was 9th at Tokyo 2020.
One half of the Faces Rola outfit has competed in two Olympic Games, some 9 years apart. She raced the 2012 Summer Games as well as Tokyo 2020.
The Frenchwoman is the only person in history to hold the road, cyclocross and XCO World Champion titles at the same time. She finished 10th at Tokyo 2020.
Robyn de Groot
Robyn rode the road race at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London but was unfortunately unable to finish within the time limit due to an early crash and mechanical problems.
The man from Scott-SRAM raced the men’s XCO event at the 2016 Olympics
Sofía Gómez Villafane
As with NinetyOne-songo-Specialized teammate (Batten), Sofia represented Argentina at Tokyo 2020.
The roadie who is racing his first ever mountain bike race, the 2022 Absa Cape Epic, put in a solid effort at the Tokyo Olympics and was part of an early five-man breakaway in the grueling 234km race
Currently lying in fifth place overall in the CM.com Women’s Category with Private Client Holdings partner Hayley Preen, Mari raced in the Triathlon event of the 2008 & 2016 Summer Olympics.
The man from France racing for Santa Cruz finished just off the podium (in 4th place) at 2016 Rio Games.
Blevins was the only male American in the XCO event at 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where he finished 14th.
A day after he claimed the silver medal in the XCO mountain bike event in 1996 ‘Frischi’ replaced an ill Tony Rominger in the Swiss road team and finished the road race in the middle of the pack… On a cyclocross bike.
Mr African, who won the very first Absa Cape Epic in 2004, participated in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. In the 2008 games, Heymans was the country's flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies.
The 2016 Marathon World Champ raced in the 2016 Games.
George is a three-time Olympian. He raced the road race in 1996, 2000 and 2008.
The Slovakian raced XCO in the 2012 Summer Olympics in 21st place.
We are sure there could be even more Olympians in the tents and campers around the race village in Stellenbosch.
Aside from the riders, five-time champion Annika Langvad competed in the 2016 Games while Gary Perkin and Michal Cerveny have both photographed the Olympics.