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Encounters with wildlife continued as the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race moved into the Karoo region during Stage 4 on Wednesday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za.

Day 5 of the race took riders on a 94km leg from the lush green forests of George to the hot, dry Karoo region and the finish in Oudtshoorn. The mercury was in the high 30s, adding a further challenge to the riders who were also faced with unforgiving, rough terrain that saw numerous riders suffer tyre problems, including the leaders in three categories – Men, Women and Mixed.

Kleinhans and Beers (Full Sus/Topeak Ergon/Red-E), clearly the strongest team in the race on Thursday, clocked a winning time of 03 hours 23 minutes 35 seconds. They were followed home 2:39 later by the Swiss/German pair of Konny Looser and Daniel Gathof, who out-dashed Team Spur’s James Reid and Julian Jessop for the runner-up spot.

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Competitors climbed over the Outeniqua Mountains via the iconic Montagu Pass during Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za.

Combrinck and Bell (NAD Pro) finished 7:16 down, leaving a noticeable dent in the 10-plus-minute lead they held at the start of the day. They still hold a relatively comfortable 8:05 gap over second-placed Looser and Gathof, with the Dutch pairing of Erik Groen and Jeroen Boelen (Stappenbelt Specialized) at 10:39 back in third.

After leading the race on Day 1, Kleinhans and Beers dropped well down on Day 2 due to Kleinhans suffering with illness. Kleinhans is clearly back to full health but they’re still too far down on time to be a threat to the overall podium. However, their aggression is certainly adding pressure to the other teams, which is making for an exciting contest at the sharp end and could still see a further shake up in the podium dice over the final two days.

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Encounters with wildlife continued as the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race moved into the Karoo region during Stage 4 on Wednesday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za.

“Two days ago the sealant in our tyres wasn’t doing its job and we had to stop and plug small holes. Today was a different story. The rough terrain through the Chandelier Reserve saw Gawie smack something, which resulted in a small cut. We repaired it, but it the tyre lost pressure and he damaged it again. We didn’t panic though. We have quite a decent buffer and didn’t overextend ourselves today. We still feel good for the last two days,” smiled Bell.

“At about 60km, as we turned off the gravel road onto a rough farm road, Erik just laid down the hammer. I was a bit shocked. What is he doing? I thought. There’s more than 30km to go still!” explained Beers afterwards.

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Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race took competitors to Oudtshoorn via the semi-arid lands of the Karoo on Thursday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za

“But I just had to go with him. It was a complete gamble, but it paid off. Erik’s racing experience and knowledge of this event put us at an advantage for sure. We didn’t know there was all that mechanical carnage happening behind us, so we just kept focussed on staying steady and holding everyone off. It was a bit upsetting that we lost so much time on Day 2, but that’s racing and now we are just making the most of what’s on offer,” concluded Beers.

In the women’s race, Mariske Strauss and Cherie Redecker (OMX Pro) recorded their fifth stage win, but it required the repair – and subsequent replacement – of Strauss’s tyre to get them across the finish line. They still hold a significant lead over stage runners-up, Catherine Williamson and Leana de Jager (Klein Karoo Ladies).

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Despite some tyre trouble, Mariske Strauss was all smiles as she and Cherie Redecker won their fifth consecutive stage of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za

The Mixed category race also had its share of drama when leaders Yolande de Villiers and Neill Ungerer (Ultimate Cycling) had to deal with rope entangled in De Villiers’ rear derailleur. They lost around 10 minutes and conceded the stage win to arch-rivals, Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed). De Villiers and Ungerer still hold the overall lead, but it’s been trimmed to 6:34 over the Barnards, setting the stage for an exciting final two days.

There was a close battle for the stage podium places in the Veteran men’s division, with Vickus Boschoff and Iniel Hattingh (Klein Karoo Ko Op) securing the win 1:19 ahead of Belgians Hans Planckaert and Wim Tollenaere (Der Fietser Rotwild Zaes). Fanie Venter and Igna de Villiers (LGE Midas Businessprint) were another 14 seconds back in third, but still hold the overall lead by 6:38 over Hattingh and Boschoff.

South Africans Izak Visagie and Linus van Onselen (Anderson Masters) continued their complete dominance of the Master’s category, winning their fifth consecutive stage and extending their overall lead.

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The category leaders pose for the media prior to the start of Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za

The Solo men’s race was a much tighter contest on Thursday, with Franco Pelser taking the stage win just 30 seconds ahead of overall leader, Jiri Krivanek (CZE), with Brandon Stewart 1:11 down in third. Nicky Giliomee maintained her firm grasp on the Solo women’s race, claiming another stage win and stretching her overall lead over Mariane Bergli.

Friday’s Stage 5 is over 88km with 1700 metres of ascent. Riders will circumnavigate the Kammanassie Dam and tackle a section through a private game reserve before heading back to Oudtshoorn. While the weather will be slightly cooler the, terrain will be as unpredictable and unforgiving as that on Stage 4, so expect more drama.

The stage will start at 07h30 Central African Time/06h30 Central European Time. To stay up to date with the action:

  • Follow @CapePioneerTrek on twitter for live tweets

  • Check out the Facebook page for daily updates and photo galleries – Cape Pioneer Trek

  • Watch the live #PioneerSpirit show online on Friday 21 October at 18h15 CAT/17h15 CET on www.capepioneer.co.za.



For more indepth route descriptions and other information on the 2016 race, visit www.capepioneer.co.za.