On Sunday the 20th of March 2022, South African road cycling superstar Nic Dlamini will make his debut at the pinnacle of MTB stage racing - the Absa Cape Epic - as he rolls down the Epic Prologue start ramp alongside Oli 'Pinner' Munnik.
In 2022 the 18th edition of this gruelling event will cover a total of 657 kilometres and 16 900 meters of climbing over 8 days. History has proved that there is no tougher mountain bike stage race in the world than the Absa Cape Epic and the pair are relishing the challenge.
Both Dlamini and Munnik are twins respectively and the pair decided to celebrate this coincidence by naming the partnership ‘Team Absa Amawele’, which means twins in isiXhosa.
With the momentum of a successful road cycling career that has seen Nic compete at the 2021 Tour de France and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, as well as win the King of the Mountain Jersey in the 2018 Tour of Britain and Tour Down Under, the 26-year-old from Capricorn Park in Cape Town has decided to expand his reach beyond the world of drop bars and skinny, slick tyres.
While road will continue to be his primary focus, from 2022 onwards with the support of Team Qhubeka's Team Principle Doug Ryder and Absa, Nic will broaden his scope by riding various non-road cycling events. This change is a means to grow as a professional athlete while continuing to inspire South Africans from all walks of life, exemplifying that sport truly has the power to change lives.
With just a few days until the Epic commences, Nic is mentally and physically ready to roll:
“I’m extremely excited to be taking on the challenge of one of the most iconic cycling events – the Absa Cape Epic. Having ridden at some of the world’s biggest races including the Tour de France and Olympic Games, to now have the opportunity of experiencing the Absa Cape Epic as a part of Team Absa is a real privilege. This opportunity will enable me to continue to grow as a rider and that is a vital step in my journey and that of Team Qhubeka as we aim to once again compete on the highest level, and return to the Tour de France one day.”
Venturing into the world of mountain biking has been a steep learning curve for Dlamini, but he's improved dramatically and is prepared for what lies ahead:
“I’ll be relying extensively on my 'twin' Oli throughout. Over the past few weeks his input on how to negotiate technical sections has been invaluable. And riding the Santa Cruz Blur is a dream, I couldn't ask for a better machine to get me through the difficult moments!”
11 x Cape Epic finisher Oli Munnik will have to muster a hail of watts in order to hold his twin's wheel on the climbs and open road sections:
“With minimal mountain biking experience, Nic has taken to riding off-road brilliantly. Watching him gain more and more confidence navigating technical sections and single tracks aboard his Blur has been awesome and we're on track to be a great partnership at the Absa Cape Epic. Knowing the power Nic has under the bonnet, I'm prepared to give it my all when the trail turns uphill!"
With 20 years spent in the pain cave, Oli is as motivated as ever to perform at his best:
"I'll never forget lining up for my first Epic in 2007, butterflies abuzz at the Knysna Waterfront. It's an honour to be partnering with Nic at his first attempt, and I'm going to give it my absolute all. Having Absa's support in the build-up to and during the event itself is huge and I can't wait for us to take the first pedal stroke to kick off our 2022 Absa Cape Epic campaign."
- Cape Epics Completed: Newbie
- Best Finish: N.A
- Strengths: Power climbs, rolling terrain
- Weaknesses: Off-road experience
- Why Epic: Riding into the unknown is daunting, but also a huge motivator
- Cape Epics Completed: 11
- Best Finish: 11th (2007)
- Strengths: Technical terrain, endurance, partnership
- Weaknesses: Leg speed
- Why Epic: It's the global benchmark in stage racing and an integral part of South Africa's cycling landscape
Santa Cruz Blur CC XO1 AXS RSV
The Amawele will tackle the extremely demanding route on a pair of Santa Cruz Blur CC dual suspension mountain bikes. Santa Cruz Brand Manager, Sam Bull says:
"It's no secret that the Absa Cape Epic is a major test for both rider and equipment, and we are proud to be partnering with this exciting pairing at the world's toughest MTB race. The 2022 route is especially rugged and the Blurs will come into their own as Nic and Oli negotiate the testing terrain."
Absa | Qhubeka | #WeRide
Keep an eye out for Oli and Nic who will be rotating kit designs between Absa, Qhubeka and #WeRide during the course of the Epic.
Follow Team Amawele
Phambili 'mawele, phambili!”