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Home / News / Trade News / IRONMAN Acquires Cape Epic MTB Stage Race

IRONMAN Acquires Cape Epic MTB Stage Race

Major boost for Sport Tourism Events in Cape Town, South Africa as IRONMAN continues major investment into mountain bike events;
2017 Absa Cape Epic to take place from March 19-26.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa/TAMPA, Fla. (August 18, 2016) – IRONMAN announced today it has reached an agreement to acquire the highly regarded Cape Epic® mountain bike race in South Africa. In addition to operating The Motatapu and The Pioneer multiple stage mountain bike races in New Zealand, the purchase of Cape Epic marks IRONMAN’s biggest step into the mountain biking market, as they aim to grow this race format substantially across the globe.

Founded in 2004, the Cape Epic is the only eight-day mountain bike (MTB) stage race classed as hors catégorie (beyond categorisation) by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Having recently completed its 13th edition, the race is unique in that it attracts world champions, Olympic champions, and other top professional riders, as well as a large field of international amateur participants.

“The Cape Epic is an iconic, world-class event that many consider the most prestigious mountain bike race in the world. This acquisition shows the commitment of IRONMAN and Wanda Sports to growing mass participation events worldwide,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of IRONMAN who also oversees the active lifestyle segment for Wanda Sports. “We see great potential in the mountain biking market, and the Cape Epic will anchor a portfolio of exciting and extraordinary off road and dirt-based races.”

Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak will spearhead this expansion for IRONMAN, and will be responsible for developing a worldwide series of mountain bike races.

Known as the “untamed African mountain bike race,” this eight-day event includes a prologue and seven stages, and is held in the Western Cape of South Africa in March. The route changes every year, and the accumulated distance of approximately 700km usually includes about 15,000m of altitude gain. Over the years the Cape Epic has grown into the most televised mountain-bike stage race in the world – it is a highlight on the professional racing calendar and attracts amateur riders wanting to challenge themselves in the same environment as the professional riders.

“We are very excited about the future of the Cape Epic and have been looking for an opportunity to take a significant step forward,” said Vermaak. “The event has changed the face of mountain biking and the opportunity to tap into the expertise of a global event business like IRONMAN will take it to the next level. I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to lead IRONMAN’s mountain biking business and look forward to being part of the global strategy.”

Vermaak said that Lynn Naudé would remain to lead the existing Cape Epic management and staff who will continue to deliver the race at the highest level. He also confirmed that the Absa Cape Epic would continue to operate from Cape Town.

“The Cape Epic has come a long way since 2004 and is reaching a point where its expansion depends on the growth of the mountain bike endurance category across the world,” continued Vermaak. “With IRONMAN we’ve found a partner who is aligned with where we want to go in terms of building that category.”

The 2017 edition of Absa Cape Epic will take place from March 19-26 with the route being announced in October 2016. For more information on the Absa Cape Epic, visit www.cape-epic.com.

For more information on IRONMAN and events in the IRONMAN portfolio, visit www.ironman.com.

About IRONMAN: A Wanda Sports Holdings company, IRONMAN operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, six of nine International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series races, road cycling events including the UCI Velothon Majors Series, mountain bike races, premier marathons and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than 680,000 participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Beginning as a single race, IRONMAN has grown to become a global sensation with more than 260 events across 42 countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

About Wanda Sports Holding: Wanda Sports Holding is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape – in three key areas: 1) Spectator Sports (media & marketing business), 2) Participation Sports (active lifestyle business), 3) Services (digital, production and service business). Led by President & CEO Philippe Blatter, Wanda Sports Holding incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN, and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.

About Cape Epic: The Absa Cape Epic is the world’s premier mountain bike stage race. The route changes every year, taking professional mountain bikers and aspiring amateurs from around the world through about 700km of unspoilt scenery and 15,000m of accumulated climbing over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in South Africa’s Western Cape province. The Absa Cape Epic is the most televised mountain bike event in the world and the only eight-day stage race classed as hors catégorie (beyond categorisation) by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the same category as the iconic Grand Tours of road cycling. This official UCI status makes it a highlight of the professional rider’s calendar. The Absa Cape Epic also attracts amateur riders from around the world wanting to test themselves against the world’s leading riders. It is a full-service race, meaning that riders can concentrate on riding while services such as accommodation, food, bike cleaning and maintenance, laundry and medical assistance are provided for them.