There was much excitement when South Africans Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss won Stage 3 and then the final stage of the 2022 Absa Cape Epic. The excitement was justified because the last time a South African pair won a Cape Epic stage was way back in 2011! There’s been a relatively moderate amount of success in the Cape Epic by South African women, with only 13 having won stages and seven having won the race overall. Here ‘s the detailed breakdown with photos of them all…

By Joanne Badenhorst

While overall victory is the most important title to pursue at the Cape Epic, stage wins are also significant for any bike racer. The fact that Strauss and Lill’s stage win is the first by an all-South African team in over a decade is telling when you consider that the event takes place in South Africa and the country is a hotbed for marathon and stage-racing.

The last all-South African team to win a stage was Hannele Steyn and Leana de Jager, who won Stage 5 in 2011. There have been South African stage wins since then, but by South Africans partnered with riders from other countries. The last time the race was won overall by an all-South African team was in 2007 when Anke Moore and Yolande de Villiers secured the title. That’s why the Lill/Strauss partnership has been such a significant one for the host nation.

Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill win Stage 3 of the 2022 Cape Epic. The first all-South African team stage win since 2011! | Photo: Sam Clark/Cape Epic

Hanlie Booyens is the most successful South African female at the Cape Epic. She has won the race overall twice – in 2004 and 2009, both times partnered with the late Sharon Laws of England. With a total of 18, Booyens is also the most prolific South African stage winner. Booyens and Laws won seven stages in the 2004 and all eight stages in the 2009 edition. She won the other three with Michelle Lombardi in 2005.

Other South African overall winners are Hannele Steyn and Zoe Frost, who teamed up to win the 2005 edition, including five stages; and Anke Moore and Yolande de Villiers, who paired up to claim the 2007 title, winning all eight stages. Those are the only all-South African teams to have won the coveted race title.

Hanlie Booyens, photographed here on Stage 4 of the 2004 race, is the only South African to have won the Cape Epic overall twice. | Photo: Holde Schneider/Cape Epic

Booyens (with Laws) won her two titles in the two eras of the event. The race route from 2004 until 2008 was a point-to-point format from Knysna to Stellenbosch, where riders would spend each night in a different location. From 2009, the format changed to offer a more compact route, with multiple stages starting and finishing from just three or four locations.

Two more South African women won the title in the ‘modern era’. Karien van Jaarsveld, the 2011 SA marathon champion, teamed up with England’s Sally Bigham to win the 2011 title and Beijing Olympian, Yolande Speedy, paired up with England’s Catherine Williamson to win the 2013 edition.

Riding the final stage very cautiously with a broken collarbone, Yolande Speedy (right) is the last South African woman to have won the overall women’s title at the Absa Cape Epic. | Photo: Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Speedy, who won the Cape Epic Mixed category with Paul Cordes in 2007 and 2010, crashed on the penultimate stage in 2013 and broke her left collarbone. In an incredible display of courage, she completed the final stage to secure the title.

Robyn de Groot, who says the 2022 edition will be her final Cape Epic participation, has the second highest number of Cape Epic stage wins among South Africans. Her 10 stage wins have come with three different partners in four editions of the race.

With 10, Robyn de Groot (left) has the second-most stage wins of a South African woman at the Absa Cape Epic. Here, she and Jennie Stenerhag are on their way to winning Stage 1 in the 2016 edition. | Photo: Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Here’s a more detailed list of South Africans who have won the overall Cape Epic title and stage wins.

Hanlie Booyens 18 stages

2004 with Sharon Laws (ENG): Stages 1-6 and 8

2005 with Michelle Lombardi (RSA): Stages 1, 3 and 8

2009 with Sharon Laws (ENG): all 8 stages

Hanlie Booyens leads Sharon Laws during Stage 2 of the 2009 edition. They won seven stages and the overall title. | Photo: Sven Martin/SPORTZPICS

Robyn de Groot 10 stages

2015 with Jennie Stenerhag (SWE): Stage 2

2016 with Jennie Stenerhag (SWE): Prologue and Stage 1

2017 with Sabine Spitz (GER): Prologue and Stages 3, 5 and 7

2022 with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (FRA): Prologue and Stages 2 and 4

Robyn de Groot (right) wins Stage 4 of the 2022 edition with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. This was De Groot’s 10th Cape Epic stage victory. De Groot has finished third overall twice and second overall twice. | Photo: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic

Hannele Steyn 9 stages

2005 with Zoe Frost (RSA): Stages 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

2010 with Ivonne Kraft (GER): Stages 1, 2 and 8

2011 with Leana de Jager (RSA): Stage 5

Hannele Steyn is pictured here during Stage 4 of the 2010 Cape Epic where she finished second with Ivonne Kraft. They won three stages that year. The 2005 overall winner is also the only woman and one of four to have completed every edition of the Absa Cape Epic. | Photo: Karin Schermbrucker/SPORTZPICS

Yolande de Villiers 8 stages

2007 with Anke Moore (RSA): Stages 1-8

Yolande de Villiers climbs Groenlandberg during Stage 7 of the 2007 edition. She teamed up with compatriot, Anke Moore, that year and they won all eight stages and the overall women’s title. Remarkably, at age 49, De Villiers is the reigning (2021) South African Marathon Champion. | Photo: Gary Perkin/Gallo Images

Anke Moore 8 stages

2007 with Yolande de Villiers (RSA): Stages 1-8

Anke Moore (left) smiles after winning the 2007 Absa Cape Epic overall with Yolande de Villiers (right). They won all eight stages and are still the last all-South African team to have won the overall title. | Photo: Harald/LiveSport/Cape Epic

Yolande Speedy 5 stages

2004 with Christi Smith (RSA): Stage 4

2013 with Chatherine Williamson (ENG): Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5

Yolande Speedy leads Catherine Williamson during Stage 6 of the 2013 edition. Later on this stage, Speedy crashed, breaking her left collarbone and two ribs. With a 2-hour lead over second place on GC, she decided to ride the final stage carefully. They completed the stage, losing almost 30 minutes of their GC lead and went on to win. | Photo: Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Zoe Frost 5 stages

2005 with Hannele Steyn (RSA): Stages 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Zoe Frost (right) with teammate, Hannele Steyn at the start of Stage 8 of the 2005 Cape Epic. They won the overall title and five stages. Sadly, Zoe passed away in March 2021. | Photo: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic

Michelle Lombardi 3 stages

2005 with Hanlie Booyens (RSA): Stages 1, 3 and 8

Michelle Lombardi during Stage 7 of the 2005 Cape Epic. She and Hanlie Booyens were partnered for that edition and had a ding-dong battle for the title with compatriots, Hannele Steyn and Zoe Frost. Lombardi and Booyens won three of the eight stages. | Photo: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic.


Marsike Strauss 3 stages

2017 with Annie Last (ENG): Stage 6

2022 with Candice Lill (RSA): Stages 3 and 7

Mariske Strauss and Annie Last on their way to winning Stage 6 of the 2017 edition. This was Strauss’s first Cape Epic stage win, her second coming on Stage 3 of the 2022 edition. | Photo: Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Candice Lill 3 stages

2019 with Adelheid Morath (GER): Stage 5

2022 with Mariske Strauss (RSA): Stages 3 and 7

Candice Lill (left) and Adelheid Morath portage down the Gantouw Pass during Stage 5 of the 2019 edition. They won this stage, which was Lill’s first Cape Epic stage win. Her second came on Stage 3 of the 2022 edition. | Photo: Shaun Roy/Cape Epic

Karien van Jaarsveld 2 stages

2011 with Sally Bigham (ENG): Stage 3

2012 with Jane Nuessli (SCO): Stage 5

Karien Van Jaaarsveld  makes her way through a river crossing during Stage 3 of the 2011 edition. Partnered with Sally Bigham of England, they won this stage and went on to win the overall title. | Photo: Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS


Leana de Jager 1 stage

2011 with Hannele Steyn (RSA): Stage 5


Leana de Jager (rear) and Hannele Steyn make their way through the fynbos and over the Groenlandberg on their way to winning Stage 5 of the 2011 edition. Before 2022, this was the last time an all-South African team had won a stage of the Cape Epic! | Photo: Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Christi Smith 1 stage

2004 with Yolande Speedy (RSA): Stage 4

Christi Smith pushes her bike up a portage section on the final stage of the 2004 Cape Epic. She and teammate, Yolande Speedy, won Stage 4 and finished the event in third place overall. | Photo: Gary Perkin

Overall South African winners:

2013 Yolande Speedy

2011 Karien van Jaarsveld

2009 and 2004 Hanlie Booyens

2005 Hannele Steyn

2005 Zoe Frost

2007 Anke Moore

2007 Yolande de Villiers

South Africa’s Yolande Speedy (right) and England’s Catherine Williamson lift the 2013 Absa Cape Epic women’s winners trophy. Almost a decade has passed and no other South African woman has won the coveted title… | Photo: Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS