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Durango’s Howard Grotts wins Absa Cape Epic

It’s the second win for Grotts in the prestigious mountain bike stage race
Durango’s Howard Grotts won the Absa Cape Epic for the second time.

In South Africa, Howard Grotts was victorious once again. For the first time since 2018, Grotts won the Absa Cape Epic on Sunday, March 24.The seven-stage pairs mountain bike event is one of the most prestigious in the world.

Grotts won the event with South African Matt Beers as his teammate. Beers won the Epic in 2021 and in 2023 Beers won it with Durango resident Christopher Blevins.

Beers and Grotts won with team Toyota-Specialized-NinetyOne and finished the 605km race with 16,050 meters of climbing with a time of 25 hours, 22 minutes and 17 seconds. Grotts and Beers finished 11 minutes and 5 seconds ahead of the second-place team of Nino Schurter and Sebastian Fini.

“It’s really cool to put in the work and then return to the race,” Grotts said. “The bikes in equipment and everything has gotten better and the competition's gotten higher. It was a different race in some ways, but also similar.”

Grotts hadn’t competed in the race since his win in 2018. He was going to compete in 2020 but the pandemic happened while he was in South Africa during that time.

The Cape Epic consists of a prologue then seven stages of racing. The Epic started on March 17 and finished on March 24.

Grotts thoroughly enjoyed riding with Beers who Grotts described as a local legend in South Africa. Grotts said it was great to get to know Beers more since they will be teammates in the domestic racing circuit.

“He was just the perfect partner for that race,” Grotts said about Beers. “He's really strong. Just all around. He's a big guy like he's six foot something and like 80 kilograms (176 pounds) and I'm 5-7 and 60 kilograms (130 pounds). So it's a pretty big discrepancy, but we've kind of worked to both of our strengths. He climbs really strong and I could match him on that and then on the kind of flatter terrain where there's a little more drafting, I could tuck in behind them and we were able to pull away from everyone else there.”

The race course changes every year around the Western Cape in South Africa. Grotts said Beers’ experience was super helpful because he could recall all the stages in the eight years Beers had done the race.

Grotts said the course had more single track on it whereas in the past there was more rough fire roads and transfer stages.

In stage four, Grotts and Beers took the top stop in the General Classification. Then the duo won stages five and six to keep their lead.

Other teams really attacked from the gun while Grotts and Beers were sitting in, according to Grotts. As the race went on, the other teams had to overexert themselves and disappeared or had mechanical issues. The conservative start paid off in the long run for Grotts and Beers as they took the win after a third-place finish in stage seven.

Grotts said at the start of the race, the temperature was in the 80s and then in the middle of the week it got close to 100. Then the last couple of days were cooler and there was a little bit of rain.

Next on the calendar for Grotts and many other elite riders in the Sea Otter Classic on April 18 in Monterey, California.

bkelly@durangoherald.com



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