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The 18th edition of the Absa Cape Epic, undoubtedly the toughest mountain bike stage race in the world, is in the books. First and foremost, congratulations to the USWE athletes that took part, particularly Andreas Seewald and Martin Stošek of Canyon Northwave who took second overall, and Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Robyn de Groot from BMC MTB who placed third in the women’s category.
Anyone watching the event must have noticed how a clear trend has emerged. The USWE logo is a common sight on the shoulder straps of the hundreds of riders competing. A game changer has been implemented, evolving the way you hydrate on MTB marathon racing forever…
To understand how it all started we need to rewind time to 2018, when world renowned athletes Henrique Avancini and Manuel Fumic of Cannondale Factory Racing Team were looking for an edge during the upcoming Absa Cape Epic race. Their secret weapon? The USWE Hydration pack. Instead of passing bottles they could bring their hydration on their backs. A game changer that would give them that little extra to press the advantage. What they ended up doing made them able to just paddle past the water stations gaining a lot of time and momentum. The whole MTB-scene was in shock. WTF!? No other elite players did or had done anything like it before.
Daniel Hespeler, team manager of Cannondale Factory Racing commented on the advantages of using hydration packs:
“As a top contender we focus on all key details and keeping our riders hydrated during a marathon race is extremely important. Being able to play with the combination of bottles and hydration packs, gives us more flexibility to dose the right amount of nutrition, without having to stop at every waterpoint. Choosing USWE was a no-brainer, they’re the number one pack on the market offering the perfect race-fit with their harness technology.”
Another advantage during marathon races like Cape Epic is safety. You’re often racing high speed alongside of hundreds of other cyclists and when riding in tricky terrain simple things like reaching for your bottle can be a lot harder and riskier than you might think. With a hydration pack you can drink with both your hands safely on your handlebars, even in tough terrain.
See the start of the trend in the video below with the Cannondale Factory Racing Team from Cape Epic 2018.
In 2022, 16 USWE-supported athletes competed and plenty of other competitors also opted to take their hydration hands-free. Not only do the 2-3L water bladders allow riders to drink water easily during the long hours in the saddle, the No Dancing Monkey technology offers a perfect, bounce-free fit, too.
See our athletes adventure, and how the hydration pack helped them overcome one of the most grueling and unrelenting routes in the races 18-year history. We present to you the last part of our GRIT series:
USWE has a couple of models we recommend for long races regardless if you are riding for the first time or fighting for first place. They all use the harness with the built in stretch, designed completely different than a “normal” backpack. It uses a four point suspension which easily clicks in place with the front chest buckle for an absolute snug and secure fit. The ways to adjust the pack are huge and the fit together with the stretch works extremely well. This patented technology is called No Dancing Monkey™ and will make the pack stay on with absolutely zero bounce, and the stretch will expand with your chest when you breath. Its almost like having no pack at all!
The OUTLANDER PRO is a superlight race hydration pack developed and designed for MTB marathon athletes and weekend warriors. The pack is being stripped off to go minimum on weight and to maximize the ventilation at the front. We’re using an ultralight mesh-membrane harness with fixed size to make this happen. This is a Factory Racing pack!
Equipped with a 2L / 70oz hydration bladder with a smooth Plug-n-Play tube coupling for extra secure and easy handling and two tube clips attachment for the drinking tube. The super light backpack has a total of 3L storage and comes with a detachable organizer pocket for your favorite tools and food. pop it off when you want to go full on race mode!