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Ironman to acquire Cape Epic MTB stage race

Published August 19, 2016

CAPE TOWN, South Africa and TAMPA, Fla. (BRAIN) — Ironman has reached an agreement to buy the Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa, marking Ironman’s biggest step into the mountain biking market as it aims to grow the race format across the globe. Ironman also operates The Motatapu and The Pioneer multiple stage mountain bike races in New Zealand.


The Cape Epic is an eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie (beyond categorisation) by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). It recently completed its 13th edition. The race draws world champions, Olympic champions, and other top professional riders, as well as a large field of international amateur participants. The eight-day race includes a prologue and seven stages, and is held in the Western Cape of South Africa in March. It covers about 700 kilometers and 15,000 meters of altitude gain.

“This acquisition shows the commitment of Ironman and Wanda Sports to growing mass participation events worldwide,” said Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman who also oversees the active lifestyle segment for Wanda Sports. “We see great potential in the mountain biking market, and the Cape Epic will anchor a portfolio of exciting and extraordinary off road and dirt-based races.”

Dalian Wanda Group Co., Ltd., a Chinese private conglomerate, bought Ironman for approximately $650 million from Providence Equity Partners last August.

Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak will lead the expansion for Ironman, and will be responsible for developing a worldwide series of mountain bike races.

“We are very excited about the future of the Cape Epic and have been looking for an opportunity to take a significant step forward,” said Vermaak. “The event has changed the face of mountain biking and the opportunity to tap into the expertise of a global event business like Ironman will take it to the next level.”

Vermaak said that Lynn Naudé would remain to lead the existing Cape Epic management and staff. He also confirmed that the Absa Cape Epic would continue to operate from Cape Town.

Topics associated with this article: Mergers & Acquisitions, Racing & Sponsorship

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