Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek gears up for fifth-edition growth


    A rider negotiates a section of singletrack in the Kammanasie Mountains during Stage 4 of the 2012 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race. The 2013 route will be launched on 4 June in Cape Town and 6 June in Johannesburg. Photo: Karin Schermbrucker

    The 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race continues to grow in both participant numbers and stature. The route for the seven-day South African race, which takes place in the Western Cape province from 20-27 October 2013, will be revealed at two separate route launches next week, one in Johannesburg and the other in Cape Town.

    The fifth edition of the annual fully-catered race, one of only a few week-long mountain bike stage races in the world, is expected to attract a stronger field than previous years after the organising company, Dryland Event Management, moved the race a week later to minimise any likelihood of calendar clashes with major events in Europe and Asia.

    The organisers change the Cape Pioneer Trek route each year to ensure a fresh challenge for the riders. This year will once again offer a new route, but will include some of the key geographical elements that have made previous editions so memorable.

    The 2013 route will include the stimulating singletrack through Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, the Red Stone formations of Kruisrivier, the World Heritage site on which the challenging out-of-category Swartberg Pass climb is located, the sheer cliff faces and rock formations of the Meiringspoort, the desolation of the Klein Karoo, the dramatic Kammanasie Mountains and the lush forests of the coastal belt.

    Dryland Event Management altered the focus of the Cape Pioneer Trek route in 2012 to ensure it was a race packed with mountain biking soul and not just a survival test. The change included shortening some stages and incorporating more interesting singletrack into the overall race.

    “We have retained this philosophy for 2013. We had such positive feedback on the route last year that we’ve kept the focus on rider satisfaction,” said Henco Rademeyer of Dryland Event Management. “That’s not to say the route will be easy. It’s still a real challenge, but we’ve set out to ensure it’s a challenge that can be conquered by anyone that’s prepared appropriately.”

    In 2012, the route covered a total distance of 534km with 11 516 metres of vertical ascent. The 2013 route is expected to be similar, with details being revealed at the official route launches next week.

    One element that’s unchanged from 2012 is that there will again be a mountain-top stage finish on the summit of the Swartberg Pass. The final ascent climbs a total of 1100 metres in just 12 kilometres, making it one of the most formidable climbs in mountain bike racing. This stage will once again offer a prize purse of R100 000 (US $10 000) to the stage winners, the biggest stage prize in any mountain bike stage race.

    “The Swartberg Pass mountain-top finish was feared and revered when we introduced it last year and we’ll definitely retain it in the 2013 race,” said Rademeyer. “It adds a certain amount of character to the race and, with the big prize purse for the winners, is rather unique too.”

    While the Cape Pioneer Trek offers a solo rider category, the primary focus of the event is on the two-rider team category. For prizegiving purposes the categories are as follows: Open Men, Open Women, Open Mixed, Veteran (40-49 years), Master (50 years and older); Men Solo, Women Solo.

    Among the top South African racers to have already confirmed their intention to compete in the 2013 edition, are Matthys Beukes, Nico Bell, Max Knox, Gawie Combrinck, Lourens Luus, Waylon Woolcock, Erik Kleinhans, Ariane Kleinhans, Kevin Evans, Charles Keey, Darren Lill, Yolande Speedy and Yolande de Villiers.

    The number of international riders is expected to be higher than in previous years, particularly with the weaker Rand making it a 15% cheaper entry fee than recent editions for European and American riders. So far, the list of prominent international riders entered includes former and current national champions, Esther Suss of Switzerland, Jane Nuessli of Great Britain and Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez of Spain.

    “Our date shift to one week later in the calendar should ensure there’s no clash with big races in France and Malaysia. We’ve had significant interest from riders around the world and are expecting our international entry contingent to enjoy substantial growth over the next couple of months, including some big name racers,” said Rademeyer.