MERIDA FACTORY RACING team of José Antonio Hermida and Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodríguez managed to bring it home and win the Masters category of the 2019 ABSA Cape Epic.

The ABSA Cape Epic is regarded by many as one of the toughest stage races in the world, and year after year more than thousand riders, including the best cross country and marathon racers in the world, make their way back to South Africa to ‘untame’ the ‘untameable race’.

Our dream team of José Antonio Hermida and Joaquim ‘Purito’ Rodríguez went to the 2019 ABSA Cape Epic with high expectations, with a new bike and the ultimate goal to leave their mark on the event as well as get Purito into the exclusive Absa Cape Epic Finisher Club, the ‘Amabubesi’ (meaning ‘pride of lions’ in Zulu).

After eight days of gruelling racing, the MERIDA FACTORY RACING team managed to bring it home and win the Masters category of the 2019 ABSA Cape Epic. In the end, the team were able to win five stages (plus the prologue) and had a time gap of over 70mins ahead of the 2nd team in their category. Throughout the week, José and Purito rode a well-calculated race, during which they avoided crashes and mechanical issues and really benefited from their close friendship and teamwork.

When deciding on what bike to take to the 2019 ABSA Cape Epic, the team went for the all-new ONE-TWENTY – MERIDA’s ‘do it all bike’. José explains, 'Well, we were fully convinced that the ONE-TWENTY is the bike of the future. This ultra-versatile machine is at the same level as the 100mm bike, with more or less the same weight but increased stability and 'safety', lightning fast acceleration and lots and lots of fun to ride, in particular when the course gets more demanding and loose'.

As their performance over the 630km long course (with 16,500meter of climbing) has shown, their decision has undoubtedly proven to be the right one and besides the award and test winning trail and enduro credentials, the ONE-TWENTY can also add an impressive Cape Epic win to its trophy cabinet.   

'The bike was the perfect choice for the Cape Epic in particular as the 2019 route was the one with the most amount of climbing and descending (in recent years) as well as the course with the highest proportion of single track. The ONE-TWENTY was the perfect choice as we benefitted from the impressive traction/grip on the (loose) climbs and from the perfect flow in the downhills. But besides that, it is also a very light and super competitive bike, and the 120mm of travel gives you the extra ‘safety/reserves’ when you ride on tracks and trails you have never been on before. The extra travel and the geometry help the rider to stay relaxed rather than constantly adjust to the changing terrain.'



José and ‘Purito’ rode the more marathon/stage race orientated version of the new ONE-TWENTY, the ONE-TWENTY 9000. The bike was specced with Fox factory front and rear suspension, a Shimano XTR groupset, FULCRUM RED PASSION 29” aluminium wheelset, Maxxis (José) and Continental (‘Purito’) tyres, Prologo saddle and MERIDA carbon components. The overall weight is 10.7kg.

Reynaldo Ilagan, Head of Product Management at MERIDA comments, ‘Our new ONE-TWENTY is the pinnacle of our full suspension technology. The new version of our 120mm bike is not just the most durable bike in our full suspension line-up, but also one of the stiffest. Both characteristics are not just important when you take the bike to the trails, but also if you endure the stresses of a demanding stage like the Cape Epic’. He continues, ’Our Float Link design is hugely supportive and makes the ONE-TWENTY fantastic to pedal and supported through the stiff frame, absolutely incredible to accelerate. Finally, the new geometry will help to keep the bike stable and planted in particular if the riders start to tire towards the end of the stages. The ONE-TWENTY 9000 would be my first choice too’. 


'The ONE-TWENTY has played a key role in our success. It offered a fantastic level of comfort, which in particular in the later parts of the event was crucial. Also, the geometry is more stable which also helps when you were starting to tire, but the track keeps throwing challenges and obstacles at you. But besides all that, it is so much fun to ride. The ONE-TWENTY really came into its own on the endless amount of single track we were racing on, and it made us enjoy the event endlessly, even when your body was completely exhausted. Well done ONE-TWENTY!'