Short but oh so not sweet; the first moving day of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic packs challenge after challenge into its relatively brief 86 kilometres. Riders will require a teaspoon or two of cement because after the relentless Stage 1 the race’s second marathon stage provides no opportunity for putting one’s feet up and relaxing. There will be no sun loungers or beach umbrellas on the sandy crossing of the rolling hills to Wildekrans Wine Estate, just searching for hard-packed tracks through the coastal fynbos. The stage starts with an ascent of Rotary Drive before crossing out of the Hemel en Aarde Valley to the west. After the bliss of a tar road descent the sand starts. 10 arduous kilometres follow, dubbed The Machine for the mysterious landowner known only by that moniker. A steep ascent separates the day’s Land Rover Technical Terrain, on a rollercoaster ride down a trail carved out by motocross bikes, from the singletracks and water point relief of Wildekrans. Riders will then make their way up the Old Houw Hoek Pass to get across into the Elgin Valley. The climbing does not relent once the Elgin Valley is reached however, two steep but mercifully short hills separate riders from a scintillating singletrack run in to the finish at Oak Valley Estate.