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All You Need to Know about the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek

The Cape Pioneer Trek is a seven day, mountain bike stage race in the Southern Cape region of South Africa. In 2017 it starts in Mossel Bay, traverses the Outeniqua Mountains and concludes on the rugged singletracks of the Klein Karoo. During those seven days it visits Mossel Bay, George and Oudtshoorn, takes in the first mid-race time trial in South African mountain biking since 2012 and features the only summit finish in the off-road discipline of cycling.

Fast Facts: 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek

Dates 15 – 21 October 2016
Website www.capepioneer.co.za
Edition 9th
Distance 553 kilometres
Total Ascent 11 420 meters
Towns 3
Entrants 250
Nationalities 19
What's happening when?
What’s happening when?

Daily Schedule

Wake-Up Call 05:30
Breakfast 06:00
Stage Start 07:30
Expected First Finishers TBA Daily
Media Podium Presentation 15 min after the 3rd placed finisher
Lunch Starts 11:00
Dinner Starts 18:00
Podium Presentation 19:00
Highlight Show Airs 20:00
Lights Out 22:00

 

Follow from Home

Facebook Cape Pioneer Trek
Twitter @CapePioneerTrek
Instagram @drylandza
YouTube Dryland Event Management
Nico Bell (front) and Gawie Combrinck rounded off overall victory at the 2016 Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa by winning the final stage on Saturday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za
Nico Bell (front) and Gawie Combrinck rounded off overall victory at the 2016 Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa by winning the final stage on Saturday.
Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za

Weather

Town Date URL
Mossel Bay  14 – 17 Oct Yr.no Mossel Bay
George 17 – 19 Oct Yr.no George
Oudtshoorn 19 – 21 Oct Yr.no Oudtshoorn

 

Registration

Where Race Village, Milkwood Primary School, Mossel Bay
When 12:00 – 17:00 | Saturday 14 October 
Map Google Maps
Van Kervel School from the air. Photo by www.zcmc.co.za
Van Kervel School from the air.
Photo by www.zcmc.co.za

Race Villages

Mossel Bay Milkwood Primary School
George Van Kervel School
Oudtshoorn Langenhoven Gimnasium

 

Route:

Download all the route maps and route profiles here.

Stage 1

Date: Sunday 15 October
Distance: 96km
Ascent: 1 650m
Start: Milkwoood Primary School, Mossel Bay
Finish: Milkwoood Primary School, Mossel Bay
Hashtag: #GondwanaGlory

Info: Stage 1 will showcase the Mossel Bay area, exquisite places all along this beautiful coastline. The stage will start in neutral fashion through town until riders turn left onto a climb of note towards the first set of fun singletrack just after water point 1.  The 11 000 hectare reserve of Gondwana is next, this is a true wilderness experience and riders will come face to face with the free roaming Big 5 of the African continent. Truly a spectacular area with views of the mighty Outeniqua Mountains and the ocean close by. More new tracks through adjacent farmlands bring riders to a fast and flat race past Diaz beach and onto Milkwood School for a well-deserved night on the water’s edge. Don’t underestimate this stage, it is still tough but very rewarding.

stage1

 

Stage 2

Date: Monday 16 October
Distance: 71km
Ascent: 1 550m
Start: Milkwood Primary School, Mossel Bay
Finish: Milkwood Primary School, Mossel Bay
Hashtag: #DiazDelight

Info: A second stage in Mossel Bay, this time exploring the western coastline of this pristine coastal haven. Early morning starts with a leg burning climb out of town towards Pinnacle Point onto Dana Bay and then a sharp right towards the interior marks the start of a fabulous and challenging day out. With the coast at their backs riders head straight for Bergsig Game Farm, a private reserve untouched with beautiful tracks and heaps of wildlife, from Buffalo to Giraffe. The descent into town is exhilarating as the ocean lies below. An easier day than the one before keeps the legs intact for a major challenge to follow.

stage2

 

Stage 3

Date: Tuesday 17 October
Distance: 99km
Ascent: 2 000m
Start: Milkwood Primary School, Mossel Bay
Finish: Van Kervel High School, George
Hashtag: #OuteniquaOdyssey

Info: This will arguably be the second hardest stage of the race with 2 000m of climbing over 99km. A short neutral goodbye ride through the town will see riders hugging Diaz and Hartenbos beaches for a 7km spectacular ride. The race then heads towards the foothills of the great Outeniqua Mountains where jeep and singletracks will traverse the foothills of the mountain, heading east towards George. Some rewarding singletrack just after water point 3 will see riders getting a taste of the fun that waits on stage 4. We finish at Van Kervel High School, a Cape Pioneer partner since 2009!

stage3

 

Stage 4

Date: Wednesday 18 October
Distance: 31km
Ascent: 720m
Start: Van Kervel High School, George
Finish: Van Kervel High School, George
Hashtag: #SaasveldSingletrack

Info: The shortest stage for 2017 but all fun and this time in a time trial format – 90% single-track riding in lush forests – we often visit George on this race, but never have we had the chance to properly enjoy their kilometres of beautiful flowing trails. The Garden Route’s capital is adjacent some of the best kept secrets in mountain biking – tracks so lovingly built and kept by passionate bikers from the area. You will be blown away by this short and rewarding day in the saddle.

stage4

 

Stage 5

Date: Thursday 19 October
Distance: 97km
Ascent: 1 650m
Start: Van Kervel High School, George
Finish: Langenhoven Gimnasium, Oudtshoorn
Hashtag: #MontaguMettle

Info: A journey which includes Montagu pass is always worthwhile and combined with the new singletrack sections at Herold Wines makes this a fabulous day – this is true Pioneer spirit and the route between George and Oudtshoorn was used during the first Cape Pioneer Trek, back in 2009. The change in climate and terrain is evident as we enter the arid Klein Karoo. Once again we approach Oudtshoorn through Chandelier Game Reserve and we pick our way towards Langenhoven Gymnasium,our hosts for the next couple of days, along the Grobbelaars River which bisects the town.

stage5

 

Stage 6

Date: Friday 20 October
Distance: 95km
Ascent: 2 700m
Start: Langenhoven Gimnasium, Oudtshoorn
Finish: Die Top, at the Summit of the Swartberg Pass
Hashtag: #SwartbergShowdown

Info: She has returned. The mighty Swartberg Mountain is making a welcome return to the 2017 route and to cap it all, she boasts a mountain top finish. The Queen Stage will be the most challenging stage in 2017 and will elevate riders 2 700 meters vertically finishing at close to 2 000m above sea level. This stage leaves Oudtshoorn in a westerly direction towards Red Stone Hills and the fabulous Karoo style singletrack around Buffelskloof. Riders turn north, approaching the foothills of the great mountain, into Wildehondekloof and then the final 8km is straight up to the best finish of any mountain bike race – the World Heritage site of Swartberg Mountain welcomes each and every one to its beauty and splendour.

stage6

 

Stage 7

Date: Saturday 21 October
Distance: 64km
Ascent: 1 150m
Start: Chandelier Game Reserve, Oudtshoorn
Finish: Queens Hotel, Oudtshoorn
Hashtag: #ChandelierChampagne

Info: After a well-rested night, the final day sees a neutral start towards Chandelier Game Reserve, home to another famous Dryland race, the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme presented by Biogen. This day will definitely include some game viewing as giraffe or eland cross the valleys and plains of this exquisite reserve. It is all about having fun and celebrating the achievements of the week gone by, 64km of jeep-track up, singletrack down! A fast race to the finish at the Queens Hotel caps a brilliant week in the saddle – until 2018.

stage7

Pro Riders to Watch

Elite Men:

  • NAD Pro MTB – Nico Bell & Gawie Combrink (RSA)

Nico Bell and Gawie Combrink are the defending champions of the Cape Pioneer Trek. They won the 2016 race by claiming dominant stage victories on Stages one and six, and racing consistently throughout the rest of the event. Their closest challenge last year came from Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Topeak Ergon/Red-E) and Konny Looser and Daniel Gathof. Of the four only Matt Beers returns to challenge the NAD Pro team in 2017. Bell is also the reigning South African marathon champion.

The defending champions Nico Bell and Gawie Combrink, of NAD Pro MTB, are back for the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
The defending champions Nico Bell and Gawie Combrink, of NAD Pro MTB, are back for the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
  • Team Spur/Red-E – Alan Hatherly & Matt Beers (RSA)

Alan Hatherly makes his Cape Pioneer Trek debut after a stellar season on the UCI XCO World Cup circuit, capped by a three place overall finish on the final standings and a second place at the UCI Mountain Biking World Championships in the under 23 division. Joining Hatherly on the start line is one half of last year’s third placed team, Matt Beers. Beers has had a strong last few months with a victory at the Trans Baviaans in August and is hungry for success after missing out on the Tankwa Trek with injury at the start of the year before struggling through the Cape Epic after coming back from that injury.

2016’s form rider, Matt Beers is back to take on the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, this time with Alan Hatherly for Team Spur/Red-E. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
2016’s form rider, Matt Beers is back to take on the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, this time with Alan Hatherly for Team Spur/Red-E. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
  • KMC Fruit to Go – Bram Rood & Gerben Mos (Netherlands)

The Dutch pairing of Bram Rood and Gerben Mos were third in 2015 and eighth in 2016 in their two previous Cape Pioneer Trek outings. But while their results were not what they had hoped for last year Mos did provide one of the iconic moments of last year’s race however when a young giraffe burst onto the trail during Stage one in the Gondwana Private Game Reserve and galloped behind the KMC Fruit to Go rider for a dozen or so meters.

In the 2016 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, a juvenile giraffe joined the action; splitting Gerben Mos and Lucas Islitzer on a section of singletrack in the Gondwana Private Game Reserve. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
In the 2016 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, a juvenile giraffe joined the action; splitting Gerben Mos and Lucas Islitzer on a section of singletrack in the Gondwana Private Game Reserve. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
  • KTM Pro Team – Manuel Pliem & Moritz Bscherer (Austria)

Though they have been on a team together for a while the Cape Pioneer Trek will be the first team race together for Manuel Pliem and Moritz Bscherer. The experienced Pliem will have to manage young Bscherer’s energy expenditure through the seven days if they are to secure a top result.

Moritz Bscherer (centre) and Manuel Pliem (left) from the KTM Pro Team. Photo supplied.
Moritz Bscherer (centre) and Manuel Pliem (left) from the KTM Pro Team. Photo supplied.

 

  • Craft Rocky Mountain – Lukas Islitzer & Sascha Weber (Austria)

Lukas Islitzer makes his Cape Pioneer Trek return for 2017 having ridden to tenth place with Guido Thaler last time out. Joining him this year is fellow experienced Austrian stage racer Sascha Weber.

 

  • Kellys Bikeranch Team – Jiri Krivanek & Marek Rauchfuss (Czech Republic)

The 2016 Solo Men’s winner, Jiri Krivanek was one of the main agitators in last year’s race. He and his Czech compatriot Marek Rauchfuss, who placed 12th in the 2017 XCM World Championships, are dark horses for the title and if anything can be gleaned from Krivanek’s 2016 showing it is that he will not be leaving the Klein Karoo wondering: “what if?”

Czech racer, Jiri Krivanek leads the foreign armada’s assault on the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
Czech racer, Jiri Krivanek leads the foreign armada’s assault on the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Zoon Cronje.

 

Elite Women:

  • Ascendis Health – Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (RSA & Germany)

The block-buster names in the elite field, Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz are undoubtedly the most decorated pairing in the race. De Groot boasts four South African national marathon titles while Spitz’s palmarès is littered with national and international titles stretching across a twenty five year long career.

Robyn de Groot (left) will be teaming up with Sabine Spitz (right) for Melcom Lange’s (centre) Team Ascendis Health. Photo by Team Ascendis Health.
Robyn de Groot (left) will be teaming up with Sabine Spitz (right) for Melcom Lange’s (centre) Team Ascendis Health. Photo by Team Ascendis Health.
  • Team Spur/Valencia – Ariane Lüthi & Amy-Beth McDougall (Swiss & RSA)

Ariane Lüthi introduced herself to South African mountain biking with a mixed category victory at the 2010 Cape Pioneer Trek, alongside Pädi Griessen. Since then she’s won another mixed title and the 2013 women’s title with Annika Langvad. She’s joined by double single speed world champion Amy-Beth McDougall for the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek and in McDougall finds a partner in the form of her career thus far.

2013 Cape Pioneer Trek champion Ariane Luthi returns to challenge for the title after a 3 year absence with Amy-Beth McDougal as Team Spur Valencia. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
2013 Cape Pioneer Trek champion Ariane Luthi returns to challenge for the title after a 3 year absence with Amy-Beth McDougal as Team Spur Valencia. Photo by Zoon Cronje.
  • Junto Ladies – Nicky Giliomee & Frankie du Toit (RSA)

The young gun team of Nicky Giliomee and Frankie du Toit might not have the racing pedigree of their older rivals but they certainly have the technical skills to thrive on the exploration stages of the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek. Giliomee won the Solo Women’s race in 2016 and Du Toit is the South African Under 23 XCO champion so while they might not have the fire power to mix it up with Ascendis and Team Spur/Valencia for outright victory at this stage in their young careers they are certainly a pairing to watch for stage victories.

Nicky Giliomee and Frankie du Toit make up the Junto Ladies team. Photo by Nicola Giliomee/Facebook.
Nicky Giliomee and Frankie du Toit make up the Junto Ladies team. Photo by Nicola Giliomee/Facebook.

 

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