Amazing experience at Cape Epic

Middelburg Cycling Club’s Patrice Gautier and Koos Klopper competed in the world-renowned Absa Cape Epic.

The Cape Epic is a team event that takes place in the Western Cape over eight days, with this year’s competition cycling through Durbanville, Hermanus, Grabouw, Somerset West and Paarl.

2023 was the 19th Cape Epic, where two teammates are not allowed to be further than two minutes apart during the race.

The event’s slogan is “The race that measures all”, and is known as one of the most prestigious and difficult cycling events in the world.

Patrice’s story of competing in the event began in turmoil. Just before heading off to Cape Town, he was hijacked and his bicycle stolen, fortunately, his friend Jaap Beyers gave him a spare bicycle in order to compete.

Patrice arrived in Cape Town determined, with his race partner Koos, solely focused on giving it their all during the race. Unfortunately, they did not have the dream start they were hoping for, as Koos’ bicycle chain snapped during the prologue, leaving them in the E batch for Stage 1 of the race.

Stage 1 was a considerably smoother experience, with the duo managing to move up to the C batch in time for the second stage of the race. This just so happened to be the calm before the storm, as Stage 2 began with Patrice having an upset stomach.

Many stops were needed, but somehow, through pure willpower, Patrice and Koos made it to the finish line. This bout of illness derailed the progress the team had made due to Patrice being in full recovery mode.

Because Stage 3 was incomplete, the duo’s race numbers had to be replaced with a blue version, indicating they had not completed the previous stage.

Stage 4 did not pose the stress that prior stages did, with the team achieving a solid time during this leg of the race.

Stages 5 and 6 were considered the most difficult due to terrible weather conditions, which forced the event to give extra time to the riders for the first time in the race’s history.

Patrice lost a crank, meaning a quick stop at the tech station for a replacement. A new crank wasn’t the only item that needed to be replaced, as Patrice needed new brake pads for his bicycle Between Patrice and Koos, a total of eight sets of brake pads were used.

Patrice and Koos peddled through heavy rain, mud, sweat, tears and more rain, to reach the end of the nightmarish Stage 6.

On the day of Stage 7, there seemed a good chance even more rain was to follow, thankfully that was not the case, as Stage 7 turned out to be a beautiful chapter of the journey.
Patrice and Koos finished with a total time of 40:50:43, with 15 475m of climbing and a final distance of 648km.

Asked if he would compete in the Absa Cape Epic again, Patrice simply replied, “Absolutely, I would do it again with a big, big smile!”

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