Ask any endurance mountain biker about what event sits atop their bucket list, and chances are it will be the Cape Epic. The 8-day mountain bike stage race is known as one of the most demanding, and most rewarding, stage races around. Some call it the Tour de France of mountain biking. This can be in part due to the hors categorie status it shares with the lap around France. Or it could be due to the amount of international press it attracts, the live television coverage, or the prestige that a stage win or overall result brings with it. Or it could be because the Cape Epic attracts the best of the best, and you'll be racing the same trails in the same conditions as World, National and Olympic champions.

In 2019 two of Australia's best men's mountain bikers took aim at the Cape Epic, and Cam Ivory and Brendan Johnston had a fair crack at the race. This year, there are 20 Australian teams lining up to take on the race from 15-22 March. Over 8 days the route will travel 647 kilometres and take in 15550m of climbing. To put that into perspective, that's double the days of something like Port to Port, but nearly triple the distance and climbing. And with 650 teams of two you can be certain it will be pretty hectic.

With the likes of Wade Wallace and Allan Iacuone racing in Masters Men, a number of other strong Masters, Grand Masters and Mixed teams, there are also 3 women's teams. Larissa Roth is racing with Stefanie Van Amerongen, Gina Ricardo is racing with Gerogina Whitehouse, and probably the top ranked Australian women's team would be multiple Australian representatives Imogen Smith and Briony Mattocks, who will be racing in Imogen's MarathonMTB.com Team colours.

With Smith having represented Australia at three Marathon (XCM) World Championships and one XCO World Championship, and Mattocks also having raced at two XCM World Championships, the two have a lot of high level racing experience. Both have stood on podiums at most major marathons and stage races around the country. Smith has won 6 stages of the Swiss Epic, Mattocks has won a stage of The Pioneer and placed 2nd overall. It's a strong, and experienced pairing - but the two are far from being full-time riders. We caught up with them to find out more.