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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Yolande de Villiers 8 stages
2007 with Anke Moore (RSA): Stages 1-8
Anke Moore 8 stages
2007 with Yolande de Villiers (RSA): Stages 1-8
Yolande Speedy 5 stages
2004 with Christi Smith (RSA): Stage 4
2013 with Chatherine Williamson (ENG): Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5
Zoe Frost 5 stages
2005 with Hannele Steyn (RSA): Stages 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7
Michelle Lombardi 3 stages
2005 with Hanlie Booyens (RSA): Stages 1, 3 and 8
Marsike Strauss 3 stages
2017 with Annie Last (ENG): Stage 6
2022 with Candice Lill (RSA): Stages 3 and 7
Candice Lill 3 stages
2019 with Adelheid Morath (GER): Stage 5
2022 with Mariske Strauss (RSA): Stages 3 and 7
Karien van Jaarsveld 2 stages
2011 with Sally Bigham (ENG): Stage 3
2012 with Jane Nuessli (SCO): Stage 5
Leana de Jager 1 stage
2011 with Hannele Steyn (RSA): Stage 5
Christi Smith 1 stage
2004 with Yolande Speedy (RSA): Stage 4
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