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Orange Monkey Pro Team Completes Absa Cape Epic in South Africa

British UCI mountain bike team Orange Monkey made their debut in this year’s Absa Cape Epic in South Africa and successfully finished in both the women’s and men’s races.

The 11th edition of Absa Cape Epic started at the Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville and ended at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West. The race is regarded as one of the world’s most challenging mountain bike stage races and has been named the ‘Tour de France’ of Mountain Bike races. It has eight stages that covered a total of 718 kilometers; which had to be completed in eight days by both members of the two-person team.

Orange Monkey Pro Team’s debut at Cape Epic has been anticipated by many, including the team at Bicycles Online, as they are exclusive distributors of Polygon in Australia; the same bike brand which sponsors the Orange Monkey Pro Team. The team composed of young, elite champion bikers – Ben Roff and Rab Wardell – who have the potential to be the best in the world.

For the women’s race, African Continental Champion Mariske Strauss teamed up with Hanlie Booyens, one of the most recognized female mountain bikers of today. She has been the South African Cross-Country Champion from 2002 to 2011 and has been part of the South African team for World Championships from 2008 to 2013. Booyens, on the other hand, is a pro and has won Cape Epic in 2004, same year when Mariske’s father finished second in the masters category. She has completed six Cape Epics and finished on the podium on five of those races.

For the men’s race, Orange Monkey Pro team members: Welsh Junior National Champion Ben Roff paired up with Commonwealth Games favourite, and Rab Wardell. Like Strauss, this is also Roff’s first Cape Epic race. He is still relatively young, but he has lots of championship titles under his belt such as Youth Midland XC, Southern XC and Welsh National Cyclocross Championship in 2007. Wardell, on the other hand, is a Glasgow-based elite mountain bike racer who has a wealth of experience in cycling. He is the 3rd Overall Scottish Championship Medalist in four disciplines (XC, Cyclocross, Criterium and Team Time Trial) and is aiming to compete in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Orange Monkey Pro Team’s run at Cape Epic was not easy, as they experienced hardships all other mountain bike racers endure during this race. Roff had solid results in the first two races, finishing 10th place in the Western Cape Open and 15th place in the Cascades Classic. Wardell was doing well in the race until he suffered from an illness in the Western Cape Open and had a severe concussion in the Cascades Classic. He made a good recovery and continued the race, but on the morning of the final stage, he was taken to the hospital due to a heart problem caused by the breakdown of his muscles and severe exhaustion. Roff finished the stage alone. The ladies team, on the other hand, was more successful and finished off 8th place. Strauss and Booyens partnership worked, due to the combined experience and endurance of Booyens and the enthusiasm and youth of Strauss.

After recovering from Absa Cape Epic, the team is now preparing for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.

This post was in collaboration with Bicycles Online.

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