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NOTE: This blog was originally published on the Dimension Data website. Dimension Data rebranded as NTT DATA in 2024.


This year’s Absa Cape Epic in South Africa’s Western Cape province proved why it’s the only eight-day mountain-bike stage race classified as hors catégorie (beyond categorization) by Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body. 

Not only did the local and international riders have to push themselves through physical, mental and emotional battles along the 658km of the race, but adverse weather conditions also played havoc with both the race itself and the supporting infrastructure.

Erratic elements put our abilities to the test

As the Official Technology Partner of the Absa Cape Epic since 2015, Dimension Data is responsible for connecting the race to the world, including supporting the successful live streaming of the event. As we know that most of the route lacks infrastructure for connectivity (even mobile signal for calls isn’t guaranteed), we put our own infrastructure in place before every year’s race. This ensures that riders’ and officials’ devices can connect to the network, allowing people to engage with each other and the outside world.

We also know that the elements can be unpredictable, at best, but this year’s unexpectedly wild weather posed new challenges for us as much as for the riders. The first test of our abilities arose during stage one, around the town of Hermanus, when strong winds snapped some of the fiber cables installed at the race village. The windstorm also ripped apart the canvas-walled riders’ diner and damaged our network cabinet in the riders’ lounge.

We quickly implemented our backup plans and were able to restore the damaged equipment as our team provided round-the-clock support on the ground.

Adverse weather conditions caused havoc at the 2023 Absa Cape Epic

High winds damaged the riders’ diner and our fiber connections

Then, just a few days on, the rains came. Rainfall was so heavy that tractors were rescuing stranded vehicles from the mud. The riders, however, had to push through unaided. As Ashley Oldfield wrote about stage six of the race, which runs through the Helderberg basin to Lourensford Wine Estate: “Heavy overnight rain, which kept falling throughout the stage, made riding nearly impossible … stage 6 was a true nightmare. It was the most demanding day I’ve ever had on a mountain bike.”

The downpours affected some of our network access points, but we kept the village connected without interruption.

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Watch how the Cape Epic racers battled rain and mud in stage six


If this is what our teams can achieve in such weather, imagine what we can do for your organization – under normal and controlled conditions, as well as when things take a turn!

All eyes on the internet

Our Absa Cape Epic planning didn’t just focus on the physical infrastructure at the race villages, of course. This year, we deployed Cisco’s ThousandEyes software, which provides visibility across wide area networks (WANs), to help us stay connected under all circumstances.

We know the connections we provide must be stable enough to function under all weather conditions, offer enough bandwidth to live-stream the event and remain fully secure to protect personal information.

Cisco ThousandEyes gave us more visibility of our WAN than we ever had before. We could monitor network traffic as it flowed out of the race villages and across various hops on the internet to its destination – and, importantly, we were alerted to any anomalies and could take action to avoid downtime.

At the Absa Cape Epic, there is a range of camera feeds coming in continually from race vehicles, and these feeds are transmitted across the internet to ultimately become part of the race broadcast in some way.

We spotted an issue with the transmission of one of the feeds and, using Cisco ThousandEyes, we could see the packet loss was not a local problem but occurring further downstream, several hops away from us. We were able to pass this information on to the broadcast studio team, who then contacted the service provider so they could address the issue.

We look forward to the 2024 Absa Cape Epic as another opportunity to showcase how we use technology to sustain a mission-critical connection between the race and the world – hopefully in warmer, less extreme weather conditions!