Columbia Partners with Absa Cape Epic

“Tested Tough” is the promise behind 70 years of all-weather outdoor gear by Columbia. What better fit than with one of the world’s leading sports events staged right here in South Africa; the Absa Cape Epic.

On 8 March, Columbia officially launched their partnership with the Absa Cape Epic at a breakfast on the 19th floor of the Westin. As the official “off bike” kit, the partnership between Columbia and the Absa Cape Epic will see 1450 Jackets, 2200 caps and 4300 t-shirts supplied to cover both riders and crew. Hosted by Cape Town personality Jeremy Harris, the breakfast welcomed an intimate gathering of personalities that epitomise the essence of the brand.

VIPs included Absa Cape Epic owner, Kevin Vermaak. Legend has it that 13 years ago around 15 cyclists lined up for the first Epic, and whilst the riders looked nervously at one another, Vermaak pronounced the event to be the future game-changer of MTB in South Africa, and outlined his dream of establishing the most captivating MTB event in the world. The event is now firmly as he dreamed it would be, innovating annually to continually raise the bar and maintain their position as industry leaders. This year, Vermaak is going to ride his own race for the first time, as he hands over to new CEO Lynne Naude. “After what I have put my family through over the past 6 months whilst training, there is no backing out now” quips Vermaak. Vermaak is riding with Jakes Jacobsen.

Now firmly entrenched in her new role, Lynne Naude was appointed CEO of the Absa Cape Epic in August 2015. Lynne has extensive experience with world class sporting events ranging from sponsorship portfolios to rugby and cricket world cups – Wimbledon to the Fifa World Cup. This is her first Absa Cape Epic as CEO. Naude is particularly excited about the impact that she will have on the 2017 event, as this will be the first real showcase of her influence. With Vermaak describing her as a better CEO than he, the industry is left with little doubt that there are big things to come.

South African adventurers Riaan Manser and Vasti Geldenhuys brought their pioneering spirits to the breakfast. Riaan and his fiancé Vasti are riding the Absa Cape Epic for a second time, as part of Team Columbia. Riaan was the first person to circumnavigate the coast of Africa by bicycle. He has written various books about his adventures. “Take Me 2 New York” was an adventure that he and Vasti embarked on together, rowing from Morocco to New York City, unaided.

The rugged and enthusiastic Team Westin duo made up of Ron Rutland and Colin Charvis entertained the guests with their take on the upcoming Absa Cape Epic. Rutland took 27 months to cycle from South Africa to England to support the Springboks in the 2015 World Cup. He and riding partner Colin Charvis, former back row forward and Welsh rugby captain are looking forward to the challenge ahead.

Erik Kleinhans, a MTB pro and a force to be reckoned with was full of sage advice for those tackling their first experience of 8 days of courage. Kleinhans outlined the growing international recognition of events like the Absa Cape Epic in professional mountain biking circles, describing the Epic as one that just about every big name mountain biker wishes to tackle.

“We as Columbia SA , distributed by Brand ID , are thrilled to officially announce our partnership with the Absa Cape Epic. The partnership is one that fits perfectly as both brands are international icons and have been Tested Tough over many years. We wish all the riders and crew members the very best and for you to enjoy our products as much as we enjoy providing it for you. Our team looks forward seeing you on the historical 100 stage and cheering you on all the way !”  Du Toit Botes – Columbia Brand President

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