Stage 1 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage in the Oudtshoorn region of South Africa was hit by a unexpected surprise when a group of mid-pack riders was met by a swarm of bees approximately 60km in the 103km stage from Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp on Monday.
A total of 30 riders were badly stung and treated at the scene and nine were rushed to hospital for treatment at the Medi Clinic in Oudtshoorn.
Carel Herholdt, of the event organisers Dryland, confirmed that the majority of the hospitalised riders were released on Monday evening and would be able to continue in the race.
"We have adjusted the rules to accommodate the injured riders. All riders who are fit for riding may continue the race with no penalties. The medics were on the scene within two minutes of us calling them. We'd like to thank them for their fast and efficient handling of this very unusual matter," said Herholdt.
Henk Meyer, one of the riders in the bee incident says he was amazed at the speed the emergency was taken care of.
"I was treated on the scene with over 100 stings removed from me. Some riders were allergic and not so lucky to continue with their race. But the AMS chopper was on the scene in no time and airlifted the victims to safety. I have a lot of faith in the ability of the organisers," said Meyer.
Max Friedrich and Nadine Rieder of Germany who finished first in the mixed team were lucky enough to miss the swarm of bees.
"I will return to this race every year and tell all my friends and colleagues about your beautiful country and the excellent organising. Everything amazed me; there is no detail that was not taken care of. We did not even know about the bees," said Rieder.
Emile Aldum, CEO of Bridge, the title sponsor, who is also participating in the event, assured that all the hospitalised riders and their bikes would be transported to Calitzdorp in order to prepare for Tuesday's stage 2, an 85km leg from Calitzdorp to the summit of the Swartberg Pass.
See full coverage of the Cape Pioneer Trek on Cyclingnews.