World Cup winning rugby players and cricket coaches. Two of the most gifted minds in corporate finance and glamourous screen stars.

They’ve all gotten dirty and suffered on a mountain bike as the sport’s popularity has grown exponentially in South Africa during the last decade.

We profile some of the famous faces who might be in your bunch when you sit in that start chute at a stage race.

Joel Stranksy

(Lance Branquinho)

The man who put over the drop goal which made 1995 one of the finest years to be a South African has evolved into a very competitive cyclist. He’s finished the gruelling Cape Epic eight times from nine starts and the only reason that’s not a perfect score is the horrific crash he suffered at last year’s event, misjudging a jump on the prologue, the result of which punctured a lung and required two hours of emergency plastic surgery to repair his face. Showing great resolve, Stranksy returns to the Epic this year with an emphatic podium in the Grand Masters division, for riders older than 50, finishing 61st overall, out of 650 teams which started.

Michael Jordaan

Michael Jordaan cycling the Wines2Whales (supplied)

The youngest ever CEO of First National Bank and a man credited with transforming the company to one which embraced the digital user experience, Jordaan’s completed a Wines2Wales and if you consider where he lives, it’s no surprise why he rides. Residing on the family farm, Bartinney, Jordaan not only has some of the country’s finest winemaking terroir but is also surrounded by perfect cape mountain terrain. His gift to the mountain biking community has been the development of Bartinney’s renowned Skyfall trail, a gateway experience – literally – to the splendour of Banhoek’s conservancy.

Gary Kirsten

Gary Kirsten (Thinus Maritz, liveimage)

Courageous left-hand opening batsman and the most loved South African in India, Kirsten has taken to mountain biking with aplomb in his post-playing cricket career. Training between eight and ten hours a week, on the challenging trails which sprawl across the lower reaches of Table Mountain, this year saw Gary complete his third Cape Epic, becoming a member of the Epic’s Amabubesi club.

Hendrik du Toit

Hendrik Du Toit (Michal Cerveny)

For Investec, the 2018 Cape Epic was a fantastic event, rewarding their corporate sponsorship handsomely. Both the winning men’s and women’s teams carried Investec branding - but perhaps the greatest achievement was that of Investec Asset Management’s CEO, Hendrik du Toit. Last year Hendrik entered but didn’t finish and with an extraordinarily busy schedule in London, a city not conducive to training for the world’s most difficult mountain bike race, 2018 wasn’t looking any easier for Investec’s money management man. After a week of brutally testing terrain, Hendrik finally rolled over the finish line at Val de Vie 523 places behind the winners, but no doubt registering a personal achievement their equal.

Vanessa Haywood

Vanessa Haywood at the Cape Epic (supplied)

Television and film actress Vanessa Haywood is best known for her leading role in District 9, but the wife of international trail running phenomenon, Ryan Sandes, is also an accomplished endurance athlete in her own right. True to her Limpopo farm roots, Haywood recharges spending time in the wild and on a mountain bike she’s no amateur. With two Cape Epic finishes she can grind gears with the best of them. Vanessa’s also competed at the agonising Leadville 100, a 160km one day-day race held in Colorado at altitudes of 3000m. And you thought training in Jozi burnt the lungs a bit…

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