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February 02, 2011

ABSA Cape Epic 2011 has much promise

hein wagner

Hein Wagner (right) tells of his plans to complete the Absa Cape Epic, despite being completely blind. Photo by Roy Barford

The 2011 Absa Cape Epic, which takes place in the Western Cape province of South Africa between March 27 and April 3, promises to be rougher and tougher than the seven previous events. It starts with a 27km ‘prologue’ ride in Cape Town and ends at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.

At a media event hosted by the 221 Waterfront restaurant in Cape Town this week, it was announced that a blind man will be competing this year. Hein Wagner, 39, from Cape Town, was born without sight, but certainly not without vision. A man of extreme fitness and mental strength, Wagner will be joining his friend, Gerrie Olivier, on a tandem bicycle to attempt the gruelling 707km off-road event.

Wagner is no stranger to extreme challenges and was until recently the fastest blind driver in the world, having reached 269km/h in a Maserati back in 2005. His lengthy list of physical achievements include completing the Cape to Rio yacht race at the age of 22, completing marathons such as the ING New York City Marathon and Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, going white-water rafting in the Zambezi River and completing the Standard Chartered Ironman event in Korea.

cape epic

Photo provided by the Absa Cape Epic

A motivational speaker by profession, Wagner backs himself all the way. “Whatever you want to do, if you put your mind to it, you can do it,” he says.

The most unlikely person to finish this race, is arguably former Springbok rugby prop forward, Robbie Kempson, who weighs more than 120kg. He did, however, complete the eight-stage event in 2008.

Kevin Vermaak, founder of the Absa Cape Epic, announced that two stages of the race will be broadcast live on SuperSport, including the final stage from Oak Valley to the Lourensford Wine Estate.

There will be R500 000 in prize money up for grabs this year and competition will be fierce.

Shan Wilson, who will attempt to defend his Masters Champion title with team-mate Andrew Mclean, has made his intentions very clear. “We’re not getting onto the start mark to race for second place,” he said.

You can get updated information about the Absa Cape Epic on their website.

Read about the 2010 Absa Cape Epic on our blog.

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