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Team Westvaal BMC's Gawie Combrinck (left) and Nico Bell, the 2012 champions, at the Johannesburg launch of the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek.
Beukes and Bell offer praise for this year's course
The route for the 2013 Cape Pioneer Trek has been revealed. The fifth edition of the mountain bike stage race will travel through South Africa's Western Cape Province this October 20-26.
The total distance of 549 kilometers over seven days is in line with the organizers' quest to deliver quality distance, not quantity distance. The ratio of vertical ascent isn't excessive, but it's relatively high and indicative of the gradient the route will cover. There's a total of 11,657 meters of vertical ascent, which is spread evenly throughout the event.
Organizers moved the race a week later this year to avoid some conflicts with some other major races in Europe and Asia; however, it will still overlap with the Crocodile Trophy, the Brasil Ride and the La Ruta de los Conquistadores stage races.
As with 2012, the 2013 edition incorporates a mountaintop stage finish. Day 3, stage 2 covers a distance of 92km but includes a total ascent of 2,760 meters. This averages out to 30 meters of ascent per kilometer, much of which comes in the final 30km.
The final climb up the Swartberg Pass is 12km in distance and climbs 1,100 meters, giving it a HC (out of category) rating, unique in South Africa. Also unique is the R100,000 (US $10,000) prize for the first team to cross the finish line.
"It's a relatively short stage, but we have added some tough sections before the riders reach the final climb to the finish. This will ensure that the stage winning team really has to be good all around mountain bikers and not just strong climbers," said Henco Rademeyer of Dryland Event Management, the organizers.
"We're constantly looking to add more soul to the Cape Pioneer Trek and with our adjustment in making the route shorter, we've been able to spend time creating great riding experiences in some of the most dramatic and varied terrain of any race anywhere," said Rademeyer. Organizers are also aiming to include more singletrack this year.
"I wouldn't miss this race for anything. It's an awesome event with a challenging route" said Scott Factory Racing's Matthys Beukes, who along with teammate Philip Buys, were the top South African team in sixth place overall at the 2013 Cape Epic.
"We are spoiled for choice in South Africa with great stage races. After having done it previously and seeing the route for 2013, I think this year's route looks more manageable for the majority of riders, but still very race-able for the top guys," said Andrew McLean, top veteran racer and Supercycling TV show presenter.
"If the vibe at this route launch is anything to go by, we are in for a great tour of the Klein Karoo in October. I'm amped!" said Oliver Munnik, a top racer for GT bicycles.
"We had some mechanical issues at the 2012 race, with about a 15-minute delay on the Swartberg Pass stage. I'm chuffed to see that stage is back again in 2013. Hopefully it will be without any delays for us this year. It's certainly motivating to chase such a big prize, but it's a tough stage and fitting to be part of a world class race," said Nico Bell, who along with Gawie Combrinck, won the 2012 edition of the race.
"On paper, it looks easier than it be will to ride," said Sean Badenhorst, editor of Tread magazine. "You have to remember that much of the Cape Pioneer Trek takes place in the Karoo region and the terrain is rough and unforgiving. That saps more energy from you than you realize and contributes to the onset of fatigue. This route is not to be underestimated."
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.
Keeping it local
Once again, the Cape Pioneer Trek incorporates the local communities through which the race passes. This ensures the event receives optimal support and acceptance.
"Securing the community involvement is one of the keys to the ongoing success of the Cape Pioneer Trek. Nobody is as passionate or as proud to be involved as the people of the towns that the race touches. And we are just as pleased to be able to bring a world class sports event to their region and through which they can raise funds needed for important community projects," said Rademeyer.
2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek
October 20: Prologue, 14.8km (354m ascent) - Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, Oudtshoorn
October 21: Stage 1, 105km (1,768m ascent) - Buffelsdrift Game Lodge to Calitzdorp
October 22: Stage 2, 92km (2,760m ascent) - Calitzdorp to Swartberg Pass Summit
October 23: Stage 3, 107km (1,543m ascent) - Prince Albert to De Rust
October 24: Stage 4, 70km (1,950m ascent) - De Rust to Herold
October 25: Stage 5, 70km (1,698m ascent) - Herold to George
October 26: Stage 6, 91km (1,584m ascent) - George to Oudtshoorn
There are limited entries still available for the 2013 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek. The main focus is on two-rider teams, but there is also a solo category.
For more information, visit www.capepioneer.co.za.