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  1. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za DSV Pro Cycling’s Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit were eager to run riot over familiar trails as they entered the final stage with a slender lead over KMC’s Gerbon Mos and Tim Smeenge. DSV tasted blood early into the 65km route and set a tempo that was just too much for KMC to hold onto. It was clear that Heyns and Du Toit were revelling in flying over the single track that they know so well, and stormed across the finish line to take the stage win and victory overall. The DSV team had been kept out of yellow for most of the race due a mechanical on stage one, but also because of the relentless pace on the flowing Klein Karoo trails from a dogged KMC. “This is the first time that Arno and I have won this race as a team, and KMC really didn’t make it easy for us. The event may not have been all about stage wins for us this year, but we came through when it counted most and we couldn’t be happier to walk away with the title,” said Heyns. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za Having come so close to victory and ultimately securing the second spot on the podium overall is something that the Netherland’s KMC is extremely proud of. Mos commented, “We gave it our best shot, and for the first time in five years got to wear the yellow jersey! DSV were the stronger team over seven days, however, and deserve the win,” said Mos. Finishing the event in third place overall was Asrin Cycling’s Wolfgang Krenn and Moran Vermeulen. As new comers to both the mountain bike and stage racing scene, the international team admitted to being completely out of their comfort zone. “We didn’t really know what to expect, except that we had to approach this race completely differently than what we’re used to. It’s an amazing experience to be in South Africa and we really enjoyed getting a feel of what stage racing at this level is like,” said Krenn. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za In the women’s race, Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill crossed the finish line as the undisputed queens of the ‘Race with Soul’. It was a masterclass performance from the Galileo Risk – Liv pairing who practically made the past seven days a victory lap. “It was a hard seven days for me, and my legs only had just enough left in them to finish today’s stage. It makes it really satisfying to conquer a race like this though, and I couldn’t be prouder to have done it alongside Theresa,” said Hill. Despite battling with an injury, Dormakaba’s Sam Sanders made sure to end the event on a high note by taking the stage win with her teammate Amy McDougall today. Photo credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Sam underplayed how much pain she has been in over the last week. She was determined to finish the event though, and that’s everything I could ask for in a teammate,” said McDougall. It was Seattle Coffee’s Nicky Giliomee and Cherise Willeit who rounded out the women’s podium both on the day and in the general classification.
  2. Team Dormakaba has sent a highly experienced and formidable women’s pairing to the race. Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall are in hot form and resume their partnership after going head to head at the third race of the Trailseeker Western Cape Series in July. Sanders edged out McDougall for the win just one week after she claimed the title at the SA XCM Championships. The two riders have a ton of experience between them but could their internal rivalry open the door for one of the other teams sure to be snapping at their heels? Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill of Team Galileo Risk are the reigning Cape Epic African Women’s jersey winners after Team Dormakaba failed to finish this year’s edition. The team will surely be looking to claim another victory against the highly established Dormakaba Team and possibly cement their status as the queens of South African mountain biking. Another women’s team to look out for are the Seattle Coffee Ladies made up of Nicky Giliomee and Cherise Willeit. Willeit certainly has the legs to get the job done after her win at the Cape Town Cycle Tour earlier this year. She has a strong teammate in Giliomee, who was part of the winning mixed team at the 2018 Cape Epic. Giliomee has an interesting past at the Cape Pioneer Trek after being unable to finish on her last attempt and will no doubt be seeking retribution. A final women’s team not to be counted out is Oakley 3, made up of fierce competitors Mari du Toit and Janine Muller. The pair were a relatively late entry and will be looking to take the rest of the field by storm. The men’s field is stacked this year with any number of potential winners. Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit of Team DSV Pro Cycling lead the charge as one of the few established teams at this year’s race. Du Toit recently stripped Heyns of the title of National Marathon Champion and the pairing will enter the race as hot favourites. Another tried and tested team with a lot of experience and time together on the trails is Team Canyon’s Erik Kleinhans and Robert Hobson. There is also Valley Electrical Titan Racing’s Marc Fourie and Rossouw Bekker, who comes into the race in tantalizing form after fighting tooth and nail to claim a hard-earned second place at the recent Magoeba Trek. Jan Withaar and Jan Liebenberg, Team Absolute Motion, are set to be strong contenders. Liebenberg now assumes the position of U23 National Cross Country Champion and partner Withaar finished second only to Alan Hatherly at this year’s National Cross Country Championships. The Cape Pioneer Trek is, however, a marathon stage race - a format that is not as familiar to the pairing. Never to be discounted in this style of racing is South African legend Nico Bell. Bell will team up with HB Kruger to form Team NAD MTB. Although a relatively untested partnership they still come into the race as one of the dark horse teams capable of taking the fight to the other favourites. Tim Smeenge and Gerben Mos, KMC Fruit2Go, make the trip over from the Netherlands once again this year to try and climb onto the podium. The pair narrowly missed out last year by finishing fourth and will be fired up to try and go at least one better this time around. With a route that is as varied as any in the world, the outcome of the year’s tussle for the throne will be up for discussion right until the final stage. The ‘Race with Soul’ is sure to dish up an intriguing fight to the finish line. With so many pedigree teams taking to the start line on Sunday it will ultimately be the team that brings the most passion to the fight that walks away with the bragging rights.
  3. The unparalleled beauty of the 'Race with Soul'. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za But as with the spirit of a true pioneer, it will once again head into the unknown in search of something even better with a 2019 route like no rider has experienced before… To ease into things, the popular Mossel Bay Prologue will remain fairly similar, but with the addition of more single-track and less urban areas. Riders will once again experience the thrill of the cliff-hanging paths of St. Blaize - the perfect introduction to an event that delivers diverse scenery from start to finish. Cue stage one – the first to see drastic changes in 2019. Often described as the ‘Prince Stage’, the once familiar trails in and around Mossel Bay will see a complete overhaul with a new route back to town to limit previous tar road sections. As riders depart from Mossel Bay, they will encounter sections that will feature for the first time in Cape Pioneer history. Dryland Director Henco Rademeyer revealed, “We are adding sections that have never been ridden before - in other words, freshly developed single and jeep track that will lead riders towards the Outeniqua Mountains. We will also replace the last 10km into George with something far more exciting.” Hold onto your handlebars, because Louvain is about to make a return. This area will certainly bring back fond memories and give riders a new crossing over the Outeniquas. The venue has been completely upgraded since the event’s last visit, with new accommodation, different tracks and a space for a brand new race village. According to Rademeyer, riders are in for a true Klein Karoo experience here: “We want riders to experience a really remote race venue for at least one night - a place far removed from the hustle and bustle of a large town or city. Here they can encounter the Karoo in its full glory,” he said. A glimpse of the Cape Pioneer's arid Klein Karoo trails. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za Leaving Louvain, riders will head into the Kammanassie. This news might send shivers down the spines of many, but next year sanity will prevail and route organisers have promised a new approach without too many surprises. Looking back at some infamous Kammanassie stories, Rademeyer recollected: “In 2009 we actually had riders assisting the media bikers to get the big motorbikes out of the valley! Some of our riders ended up leaving their bikes and walked out of there. We will definitely be taking a milder approach next year!” And now for the question on everybody’s lips – what will the Swartberg stage look like next year Rademeyer is excited to announce that once again there will be a Swartberg mountain top stage finish: “There is something mystical about finishing on top of the Swartberg - the Cape Pioneer is the only mountain bike stage race I know of that boasts this kind of achievement!” He also hints that this will likely be the Queen Stage again, but that the Kammanassie will take a close second. And finally onto Chandelier Game Reserve… The familiar favourite is always special, but will come with a completely different ride next year that will even be a few kilometres shorter. A closing comment from Carel Bosman, Momentum Head of Sponsorships: "This is going to be the best Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen to date. The balance between tough and rewarding stages is just right. We've basically taken all the things we've previously learned and created the 2019 route!" Cape Pioneer Trek 2019 Route Details:
  4. The impressive victory from Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys at the 2018 Cape Pioneer Trek. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za After six spectacular stages and 530 km’s in the saddle, Team Pyga Euro Steel’s Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys stormed to victory at the 10th edition of the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen. It was a first-time win as a team for South Africa’s mountain biking giants. Buys enthused, “It feels so good to be back to racing form! I haven’t done a serious stage race in ages, and was quickly reminded of how sore the legs get from competing at this level! I’ve never won this event before - it’s all been incredible.” Beukes, who grew up in Oudtshoorn, is a familiar favourite at the iconic event. With high-priority races like the ABSA Cape Epic coming up, he explained, “I know these trails really well. We get to encounter some tough terrain out there that put our bikes and bodies to the test. This race is really good preparation for the major events on our international racing calendar.” A very attentive Beukes keeping a close eye on proceedings during yet another climb in Chandelier. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za The highly competitive Team Spur Specialized made it a heart-fought win for Buys and Beukes. After his 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen victory, Alan Hatherly teamed up with Denmark’s Simon Andreassen with a strong drive to defend the coveted title. After a week of fighting tooth and nail, Hatherly, Andreassen, Beukes and Buys set off for the final 64km stage through Chandelier Game Reserve. With the brutal Klein Karoo terrain to conquer, a puncture or mechanical could have ended the race for either team. Caution was thrown the wind, however, as they threw down the gauntlet and engaged in a head-to-head battle with the hope of forcing a mistake from their competitors. It was Hatherly who actually crossed the finish line first, but with Beukes and Buys only seconds behind him, Pyga Euro Steel secured the victory overall. “Having such tight competition was great! It’s really good for mountain biking as a sport in South Africa, and it forced us to push beyond what we thought we were actually capable of,” said Buys. Taking the final spot on the podium was NAD MTB’s Matt Beers and Gawie Combrinck. The international pair of Karen Brouwer and Cemile Trommer who were nicknamed 'the ladies in pink'. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za The women’s field saw an international victory from the German-Dutch pair of Cemile Trommer and Karen Brouwer. With the pink jerseys on their back and overall lead, yet another stage win today proved that Trommer and Brouwer have forged a newly-formed formidable duo. After her first trip to South Africa, a beaming Trommer commented on the coastal to Klein Karoo experience in the Southern Cape: “We work so well together, and have similar strengths. This was my first trip to South Africa, and words cannot describe what an incredible experience it was. I’ve never encountered such diverse terrain in one week – not a single stage was like the other! I can honestly say it was the best stage race I have ever done.” In second place was Team Garmin’s Yolandi du Toit and Catherine Williamson. Despite starting the week off feeling ill, Williamson will be happy to have finished the event strong with the added bonus of a stage win earlier this week. Rounding out the ladies podium was Simone van Aardt and Sarita Louw from Team Faith. Champagne flowed at the finish line as close to 500 riders celebrated the culmination of a week's hard riding and many happy miles soaking up the uniquely South African scenes and spirit of the Cape Pioneer. Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys celebrate an unforgettable Cape Pioneer Trek experience. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za. The 2018 Cape Pioneer Trek results are available here.
  5. Matthys Beukes blazing through Stage 4 'Montagu Mettle' of the Cape Pioneer Trek. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za With sweltering heat and over and 115 km's to conquer, the stage proved to be the toughest one yet. Adding to the already challenging conditions were brand new climbs that had never seen mountain bikes before. In a true mettle tester, riders faced an unrelenting terrain with loose shale, ruts and technical rocks. After almost four and a half long hours in the saddle, Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys (Pyga Euro Steel) snatched up the victory to secure the yellow jerseys for yet another stage. Team Spur's Alan Hatherly and Simon Andreassen followed less than two minutes later in sprint finish against NAD MTB's Matt Beers and Gawie Combrinck. A satisfied Matt Beers at the finish line after a testing day out in the field. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za It was a particularly tough day for Matt Beers, who punctured 45km's into the route. Unable to fully repair the damage to his tyre, Beers remained calm and took on the harsh terrain with a flat for just over 30km's before he reached the next tech zone. “I had no idea what to do, and thankfully my bush mechanic Gawie managed to make a plan out there. Anyway, three bombs and four plugs later – I managed to make it to the tech zone. The rest of the race was spent chasing the leaders, so we’re super proud to pull of a third place!” said Beers. The breathtaking Montagu Pass that riders took on during stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za The women's category saw a complete shake-up in the General Classification. Michelle Vorster and Aurelie Haldwachs (Landrover Women), who had held the second spot overall, decided to withdraw from stage four and ultimately bowed out of contention for the Cape Pioneer Trek title. “Aurelie hasn’t been well since the event began. She’s been battling with a chest infection and today I could just see her body had no power left. Health comes before racing,” explained Vorster. It was Team Garmin's Yolandi du Toit and Catherine Williamson who snatched up the stage win after a tough 5h10m27s. “We were up against some extremely tough terrain, and the heat didn’t make it any easier. Couldn’t be happier to get another stage win with a healthy partner! It was beautiful out there,” said du Toit. Taking second overall was Cemile Trommer and Karen Brouwer from Team KMC Focus, who put in enough hard work to retain the pink jerseys and overall lead. The third and final spot on the podium welcomed new-comers Simone van Aardt and Sarita Louw from Team Faith. The 2018 Cape Pioneer Trek results are available here.
  6. Simon Andreassen in his element during the third stage of the Cape Pioneer Trek. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za After yesterday’s long day in the saddle, riders were presented with a short, sharp and extremely fast 31km time trial. A large majority of the stage described as ‘Saasveld Singletrack’ was made up of lush forest trails in George. Hatherly and Andreassen set a blistering time of 1h 13m 30s with an average pace of 27kph – something most road cyclists would be happy to achieve over a similar distance. “This was by far the best stage for me. We managed to make up some crucial time to get back into contention for the overall win,” said Andreassen. Securing second overall was Team Pyga Euro Steel’s Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys, who finished roughly 51 seconds behind their rivals. While the pair is far more comfortable over longer distances, their hard efforts were enough to secure the yellow jersey for yet another stage. “Hats off to Alan and Simon, they were incredible out there today. Tomorrow is going to be long and tough through Montagu, and hopefully we’ll extend our lead,” said Beukes. Taking a third place overall was Team NAD MTB’s Matt Beers and Gawie Combrinck in a time of 1h 16m 07s. The Kervel High School race venue. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za In the female category, it was once again the ladies in pink and overall leaders who set the fastest time. Cemile Trommer and Karen Brouwer (Team KCM Focus) were untouchable as they pushed the pace through tight switchbacks to finish in 1h 34m 57s. With an impressive two minute gap on their closest competitors, Trommer commented: “I knew that there was no room for error today, so I was so grateful that I could stick behind Karen and just follow her back wheel. It was all terribly exciting!” Landrover Women’s Michelle Vorster and Aurelie Halbwachs snatched the second spot for the day, with Yolandi du Toit and Catherine Williamson (Team Garmin) finishing in third with a time of 1 h 40m 21s. Karen Brouwer pushes the pace on tight forest trails. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
  7. The stage presented a 2220m elevation gain and included brand new trails into some of the most pristine indigenous forests on this coastal belt. With the yellow jerseys on their back, Pyga Eurosteel's Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys completely ripped the field apart. Leaders during the second stage of 2018 Cape Pioneer Trek, 'Outeniqua Odyessy'. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za An elite group of 20 riders stuck together for the early stages of the race, but at around 40km's Team Pyga EuroSteel and Team NAD MTB’s Matt Beers and Gawie Combrink gradually pulled away and were immediately engaged in a head-to-head battle. In a true test of man and machine, the leading teams widened their gap on the rest of the field on a climb that is usually included in the infamous Attakwas Extreme event. It seemed that victory could swing either way until 15km’s to go where Beukes and Buys executed a carefully laid tactical plan: “I’d actually taken Philip out and showed him that section of the route, and that’s where we’d planned to make our attack. When the opportunity presented itself on the Attakwas climb though, we had to take it. It was a mental game from there knowing that’d we’d attack again later on, but we pulled it off!” said Beukes. Matt Beers pushes the pace up front during the second stage of the 2018 Cape Pioneer. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za After an enormous effort to close the ever-widening gap, an exhausted Team NAD MTB crossed the finish line in second place. "This is Matthys’ back garden… he knows these trails better than anybody. The race is far from over though, and there’s still a lot of work that can be done in the days ahead,” said Beers. Team Spur Specialized’s Simon Andreassen and Alan Hatherly took some strain over the second stage. As a Cross Country specialist, the 114km route was the longest that Andreassen had ever raced before. With a third place overall, the team will look to make up some time in tomorrow’s time trial. A satisfied Karen Brouwer and Cemile Trommer after the second stage. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za The ladies category saw a whitewash win from the international pair of Karen Brouwer and Cemile Trommer (Team KCM Focus). Despite some stiff competition from Landrover Women in the first few kilometres of the race, Trommer and Brouwer were able to maintain a solid pace that saw them slowly pull away from the rest of the field. By the time they crossed the finish line, they'd widened the gap on their competitors to an impressive 19 minutes. “We were very surprised to win with such a big gap! There was no specific attack, we just found a rhythm and managed to keep it. Really enjoyed today’s route!” said Brouwer. Taking the third spot overall was Team Garmin’s Catherine Williamson and Yolandi du Toit.
  8. In heat and high winds, Team Spur Specialized’s Alan Hatherly and Simon Andreassen set off from the Mossel Bay start line with targets on their backs following their impressive Prologue victory. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes win the first stage of the 2018 Cape Pioneer Trek. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za In a stage suitably described as ‘Gondwana Glory’, riders were presented with a demanding 96km route and 1650m elevation gain to conquer. The testing weather conditions only added to an already challenging distance, and a select group of about 10 riders was quickly established up front. In a tight tussle that unfolded throughout the nail-biting race, the lead changed constantly. Hatherly and Andreassen were the first to enter Gondwana Nature Reserve with Pyga EuroSteel’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes close behind them. The pace really picked up at that point and Nad MTB Team’s Matt Beers and Gawie Combrinck were forced to tap into low gear to close the gap. With just 20km’s to go, Pyga EuroSteel put their heads down and made the attack that would ultimately secure their victory over Hatherly and Andreassen, who finished in second. “It got really tough at that point - we’d been making multiple attacks and accelerations all day. I was definitely taking some strain but managed to catch up to Matthys and just sit behind his wheel until the finish,” explained Buys. As marathon experts, the Pyga EuroSteel pair drew on years of experience to stay ahead of rivals Hatherly and Andreassen. “They specialize in Cross Country style events, and their acceleration is a bit better than ours. The difference is that we’re trained to accelerate multiple times over longer distances, and that gave us the advantage today. The idea was to wear them out before the finish, and then use our endurance to push right to the end,” said Beukes. The victory secured the yellow jersey for the team with a slender General Classification lead of just one second. Snatching up the third spot for the day was KTM Pro Team’s Manuel Pleim and David Schoeggl, who fought hard to close the gap on the leading group in the final stages of the race. Yolandi du Toit and Catherine Williamson snatch victory at the first stage of the 2018 Cape Pioneer Trek. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za The competitive female category also saw a shuffle in the pink jersey. After an impressive Prologue effort, Team Landrover Women faced an incredibly challenging day in the saddle. “My legs just felt like they had nothing to give. It was extremely frustrating, especially because I knew I was letting my teammate down,” said a clearly disappointed Aurelie Halbwachs. The Team Garmin pair of Yolandi du Toit and Catherine Williamson grabbed the opportunity to storm to the top step of the podium. A second place from Cemile Trommer and Karen Brouwer, however, meant that Team KMC Focus would walk away with the pink jersey and overall lead. “I’m really surprised we got the pink jersey, today was tough with the wind. We’re also not used to the heat at all, so had to dig deep to push for the podium. Karen pushed me at the start, and then I took over and pulled her during the second half of the route. We love getting to experience South Africa! The terrain is so different, it’s not like anything I’ve experienced before,” said Trommer, who lives in Germany. Some of the wild encounters in Gondwana Nature Reserve. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
  9. Set to shake the Cape Pioneer stage is a showdown between Alan Hatherly and Matthew Beers. Hatherly and Beers crowned 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek Champions. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za The riders stormed to a hard-fought victory at last year’s event when they teamed up to race for Team Spur. While the focus remains to defend the coveted title, this year Beers and Hatherly will be on different teams… Beers was signed by NAD MTB Team at this start of the season, and will now be riding with experienced local rider Nico Bell. Hatherly has also had some exciting changes unfold over the past year. His career as a professional cyclist reached new heights this month when he was crowned U23 UCI XCO World Champion in Switzerland. The South African star will now team up with Denmark’s Simon Andreassen, who also specialises in Cross Country style events. When asked about chasing the 2018 title with his new teammate, Hatherly enthused: Hatherly at the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek. The rider will now team up with Simon Andreassen for the 10th edition of the event. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za “I got to race Tankwa Trek with Simon earlier in the year, so we know where our strengths and weaknesses are together. His flat power will be a big advantage, and my climbing legs might help him with the pacing – it’s an exciting overall package! Our Cross Country backgrounds will also be really useful for the shorter stages in particular.” Hatherly and Beers, who were roommates last year, remain close friends despite the sudden rivalry at this year’s ‘Race with Soul’. Beers comments on thoroughly enjoying the stiff competition, especially when he trains with Hatherly: “Being on different teams has added a new level of excitement… I joke with him a lot when we’re out training and keep asking him how he feels about coming second at the Cape Pioneer this year! On a serious note though, it’s awesome to have someone so close to you succeed like Alan has. We really feed off each other, and that pushes us beyond anything we could do on our own.” Other stand-out riders that are preparing to put up a Cape Pioneer battle are Manuel Pleim and David Schöeggl (KTM Pro Team), Robbert de Nijs and Erik Groen from the Netherland’s, and Gerbon Mos and Tim Smeenge (KMC Fruit to Go).
  10. Photo by Oakpics.com. Running concurrently to the main event the Cape Pioneer Trek Adventure will start on the 17th of October 2018, in George, and conclude on the 20th of October, in Oudtshoorn. The stages will include a time trial through the forest singletracks of George, the traditional ascent of the Montagu Pass and crossing of the Klein Karoo to Oudtshoorn, the Queen Stage which concludes at the summit of the Swartberg Pass and the Grand Finale. In total the route will cover roughly 280 kilometres and provide riders with an intoxicating introduction to the world of week-long stage racing. Photo by Oakpics.com. “At four days long the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek Adventure, presented by Biogen, is the perfect step up from two or three day events to longer stage races” reflected race director Henco Rademeyer. “As Dryland Event Management we realise that seven days can be intimidating. With that in mind we are proud to introduce the Cape Pioneer Trek Adventure which will provide nearly 60% of the Cape Pioneer Trek experience to riders who would otherwise feel they cannot complete the full distance. We know that once they have ridden the Adventure though that they will realise the full Cape Pioneer Trek is within their reach, and take on the main event in 2019.” Riders entering the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek Adventure, presented by Biogen, will take part in the solo categories and there will be no racing awards, to help keep the focus on enjoying the experience. Photo by Oakpics.com. “I believe the CPT Adventure will be very popular as it includes the spectacular George time trial, Montague and Swartberg Pass and the famous Karoo stages” Carel Bosman, Head of Sponsorships at title sponsors Momentum said. “Further, it speaks directly to those who find it difficult to be away from office for a seven day event and the person who’s building up to one and is looking for a stepping stone event” he concluded. Entries to the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek Adventure, presented by Biogen, open – along with the entries to the full Cape Pioneer Trek, which takes place from the 14th to the 20th of October 2018 – on the 28th of November 2017. The standard Adventure entries include tented accommodation, all meals and a First Ascent race garment. As with the main event riders can also choose to upgrade to luxury tents or a choice of formal accommodation as well as purchase supporter accommodation and meal packages. To find out all about the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek Adventure, presented by Biogen please visit www.capepioneer.co.za. Photo by Oakpics.com.
  11. The final stage of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen was a loop through the Chandelier Game Reserve outside Oudtshoorn. For the last time, we rustled around in our tents, wriggling into lycra, looking for clean socks, and applying suncream before dragging ourselves and our bikes to the start line. Click here to view the article
  12. Photo credit: Hayden BrownAt only 64 kilometres with 1150m of climbing, the stage would be easy by Pioneer standards, and with no next-day consequences for going too hard, we enjoyed the fast start after the obligatory neutral zone out of town. Photo credit: Hayden BrownThe route did not have a single major climb, rather a series of “sharks teeth” made up of rocky climbs and loose descents, so that we were either climbing or descending as we made our way through the reserve. With a lot of open road under our belts, it was a treat to be riding terrain that kept your mind focused on the bike and what was coming up ahead. Karoo shale has sharp edges which can easily catch a misplaced tyre, and so even jeep track descents require a level of concentration which is ideal for taking your mind off aching legs and a bruised bum. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaOnce again, we were fortunate to have comfortable temperatures: the rocky valleys are sheltered from the wind, and offer no shade, making them unforgiving in the heat. A brutally steep climb made sure our legs were drained before we hit a final wonderful piece of trail. Raw, and unmanicured Karoo path, it snaked up and down the hillside, laced with off camber turns and loose rocks, but still maintaining a grin-inducing flow. The high carried us to the final water point and through the flat 10 kilometre run into town where the finish line at the Queens Hotel, and ice cold champagne was waiting. By the time we came though all the game had been scared off by the chopper. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaCompared with the preceding days, this stage was over in a flash, I did not even get around to drinking my second bottle. It was fantastic to finish with a fast fun route which left us feeling strong and with a happy buzz from the trails. It has been a mentally taxing seven days of riding, initially made challenging by weather conditions and mud, and later by the cumulative fatigue of long days in the saddle, and the complications of tent life. I am incredibly stoked that we got through without a single mechanical or mushroom cloud event in the team. Dryland have put on a superb event, and I can’t thank everyone involved enough. Although I am overjoyed to be reunited with my bed and coffee machine, the withdrawal is real, and I can’t help but start looking for the next adventure. Cheers!
  13. Morning routines are serious business. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.za And what a stage it was. The profile was too terrifying to comprehend. Over 90 kilometres, with the mammoth climb up the Swartberg Pass in the final eight kilometres of what would already have been a challenging route. A fast, flat, dusty start. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaWe headed out of Oudtshoorn and into the Karoo veld, at high speed for the first twenty, fairly flat kilometres. A gradual climb on a surface of loose “baby head” rocks spread out the field, and from this point we were on our own for large parts of the day. In terms of the terrain, this was by far my favourite day. We rolled through thorny bushveld on a mixture of tweespoor jeep track and winding trails with the odd sandy corner to keep us on our toes. It felt very much like we were in the middle of nowhere. At times there was not a fence, car, or building in sight. We were incredibly lucky: the temperature stayed mild throughout the morning, I suspect we would have cooked in those windless valleys on a warmer day. At the first water point, we were warned about a “kwaai bult” and advised to fill up both bottles. As it turns out, “kwaai bult” was not an exaggeration. A few kilometres later we hit a monster hill. Brutally steep and rocky we pushed, dragged and carried our bikes most of the way up, along with my heart rate. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaWe were rewarded with a rather fun and sketchy jeep track descent, but I suffered on the district roads that followed, as I struggled to recover from the portage effort and stay with the group we had formed. The kilometres up to the final water point were a dark blur. To our left, we could see the Swartberg summit high above us: the vehicles at the finish line glistening ominously in the sunshine, while the road we were following took us in the wrong direction, away from where we knew we needed to be and over a series of unnecessary rolling hills. I was struggling to breathe and find a rhythm, and panicking about the massive climb I knew was still to come. At last, we reached the final water point where we shoveled as much food down as possible (and in desperation, I even took a caffeine tablet), before embarking on the long-awaited Swartberg Showdown. A spectacular finish. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaOnce on the climb, I settled down, found a rhythm and began to enjoy the view unfolding as we moved higher and higher up the pass. To my surprise, we even began to reel in teams in front of us. This pleasant state lasted until the final 1.5 kilometres where the gradient kicked up, and the day's efforts quickly became apparent in my body. The stretch to the finish line could well have been the longest 500 metres of my life, but standing at the top fighting back tears of relief came with an incredible sense of achievement. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.za Photo credit: Seamus AllardiceTomorrow is the final stage through Chandelier Game Reserve where we will be riding 64 kilometres with 1150 metres of climbing before our final celebrations at the Queens Hotel. Tomorrow's route. You can find more information about the route here.
  14. The final stage of the Cape Pioneer Trek wound through the Chandelier game reserve just outside of Oudtshoorn. The shorter route made for exciting racing with tight results in both the men's and women's racing. Watch all the action in the highlights video below. Click here to view the article
  15. The Spur/Red-E and Spur/Valencia teams of Alan Hatherly, Matt Beers, Ariane Luthi and Amy-Beth McDougall secured the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, titles on Saturday the 21st of October in the Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. Though both the men’s and women’s general classification champions were unable to win the final stage, surrendering stage victory to NAD Pro MTB and Ascendis Health, they still secured the overall victory by 1 minute 42 seconds and 1 minute 40 seconds respectively. Click here to view the article
  16. The final stage of the race was a 64 kilometre long loop from Oudtshoorn, through the Chandelier Game Farm and back to the capital of the Klein Karoo. It featured 1 150 metres of climbing, most of which took place on a series of steep loose shale climbs in the game farm. The route was far from easy, despite its relatively short distance and in previous editions, the stage had caused general classification shake-ups with riders puncturing and haemorrhaging time as panic set in. Alan Hatherly (left) and Matt Beers (right), of Team Spur/Red-E, raced to victory with 6 stage wins at the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Hayden Brown. Once again the grand finale served up drama, this time it was pre-stage however as the third-placed women’s team of Nicola Giliomee and Frankie du Toit were disqualified by the UCI commissaire for receiving outside assistance during stage 6. The Junto Ladies team had been forced to stop in the neutral zone to fix a broken valve stem. Team Spur mechanic JP Jacobs assisted Giliomee and du Toit in their repairs, as they were under the impression he could do so in the neutral zone, but the race commissaires ruled otherwise – evicting the third-placed team from the race. In the men’s race there was fortunately no mechanical or rule infringement induced position changes on the general classification. In fact, the only major team to lose ground was the SPOT Africa combination of Timothy Hammond and Derrin Smith. Smith is a part-time mountain bike racer, fitting training in around his busy farming schedule, and the exertions of the week were clearly taking their toll. He and Hammond eventually finished in sixth position on the stage, but managed to hold off the KTM Pro Team who finished above them on the stage to retain fifth overall. Gawie Combrinck attacks on a climb in Chandelier Game Farm in an final attempt to distance the Spur/Red-E team of Matt Beers and Alan Hatherly. Photo by Hayden Brown. At the front of the race Team Spur/Red-E were keen to make the going tough for NAD Pro MTB. Hatherly and Beers took the fight to Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck and the KMC Fruit to Go team of Bram Rood and Gerben Mos. “We stayed with them for the first fifteen kilometres or so and then they just went to hard” Rood confessed. “We are happy with third place overall. The other teams are really strong so it’s okay that we are the best of the rest,” said the KMC rider. “The stage really suited me as it was either up or down, so there was no real advantage in drafting” Hatherly said. “As the yellow jersey wearers the unwritten rule is that we do not have to set the pace, we can just defend our lead. But we love to race so we helped NAD animate the racing” Beers elaborated. “It was pretty much full gas all day” Combrinck confirmed. “I really enjoyed the stage. I love this hard rocky riding.” Gawie Combrinck celebrates NAD Pro MTB’s first stage win of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Hayden Brown. With both NAD Pro and Spur/Red-E driving the pace; the leading two teams flew through the final kilometres and entered Oudtshoorn together. Once again it came down to a sprint finish but this time Bell and Combrinck emerged victorious after both riders outmaneuvered Alan Hatherly ahead of the sharp final turn. NAD Pro claimed a consolation stage win, but the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek title went to Spur/Red-E; by 1 minute and 42 seconds, after seven days of racing. The women’s race was also tightly contested on the final day with the Ascendis Health duo Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz racing to reel in the remaining 2 minute and 29 second deficit to Spur/Valencia. Try as they might though they could not shake Lüthi and McDougall; even a spectacular crash by Lüthi, which left her with a saddle pointing skywards for the final ten kilometres. Though De Groot and Spitz crossed the finish line first, 49 seconds ahead of Lüthi and McDougall the Swiss and South African paring had done enough to win the UCI women’s competition by 1 minute and 40 seconds. Amy-Beth McDougall (left) and Ariane Lüthi (right) put in a defensive racing master class to hang on to their lead in the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. The pair eventually won by 1 minute and 40 seconds over Ascendis Health. Photo by Hayden Brown. When asked if she dug deep to fight back from being physically and emotionally spent to rise to the level of her Ascendis Health rivals, to match the level of her partner Lüthi, or to prove a point to herself McDougall responded: “A bit of all of those really. I gave everything every day and finished completely broken after each stage. I started the next stage knowing I would have to give everything again. It was really tough but I think I have proved something to myself.” Amy-Beth McDougall and Ariane Luthi celebrate their 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, title. Photo by Hayden Brown. In a category where both De Groot and McDougall suffered from injury or illness during the event, their ability to battle through the pain barrier to not just complete the stages but to compete at the highest level displayed once again the courage required to race as a professional mountain biker. Sabine Spitz (left) and Robyn de Groot (right) won the final stage of the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen on Saturday the 21st of October. Photo bye Hayden Brown. With the conclusion of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, the mountain biking fans can relive the drama of the race for a final time with the daily highlight video. The stage 7 highlights can be viewed on the Cape Pioneer Trek Facebook page and the Dryland Event Management YouTube Channel from 20:00, Central African Time, on Saturday the 21st of October. For more information on Cape Pioneer Trek please visit www.capepioneer.co.za.21 Results: 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by BiogenUCI Men | Stage 7 1. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Gawie Combrinck (2:25:03) 2. Team Spur/RedE, Alan Hatherly & Matthew Beers (2:25:05 | +00:02) 3. KMC Fruit to Go, Bram Rood & Gerben Mos (2:31:39 | +06:36) 4. Kelly’s Bikeranch Team, Jiri Krivanek & Marek Rauchfuss (2:34:18 | +09:14) 5. KTM Pro, Moritz Bscherer & Manuel Pliem (2:34:36 | + 09:32) UCI Women | Stage 7 1. Team Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (2:42:16) 2. Team Spur/Valencia, Ariane Luthi & Amy-Beth McDougall (2:43:06 | +00:49) 3. Team Cape Brewing Company, Ila Stow & Marianne Bergli (3:15:41 | +33:24) 4. Team Bicycling, Jenna Borrill & Tandy Kitching (3:23:37 | +41:20) 5. Anderson Transport, Louise Bezuidenhout & Anneke Viljoen (3:32:41 | +50:24) UCI Men | General Classification after Stage 7 1. Team Spur/RedE, Alan Hatherly & Matthew Beers (21:52:57) 2. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Gawie Combrinck (21:54:39 | +01:42) 3. KMC Fruit to Go, Bram Rood & Gerben Mos (22:17:03 | +24:06) 4. Kellys Bikeranch Team, Jiri Krivanek & Marek Rauchfuss (22:36:14 | +43:17) 5. SPOT Africa, Derrin Smith & Timothy Hammond (22:51:43 | +58:45) UCI Women | General Classification after Stage 7 1. Team Spur/Valencia, Ariane Luthi & Amy-Beth McDougall (24:25:36) 2. Team Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (24:27:17 | +01:40) 3. Team Cape Brewing Company, Ila Stow & Marianne Bergli (29:34:16 | +5:08:40) 4. Team Bicycling, Jenna Borrill & Tandy Kitching (31:21:37 | +6:56:00) 5. Anderson Transport, Louise Bezuidenhout & Anneke Viljoen (32:09:03 | +7:43:27) For all the results from the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen please click here.
  17. Stage 6, the Queen stage of Cape Pioneer Trek, finished at the top of the Swartberg Pass after 94 kilometres of racing. The summit finish produced spectacular racing as the front teams all looked to gain precious time over their competitors. Click here to view the article
  18. The Queen Stage of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, saw the Team Spur/Red-E combination to Alan Hatherly and Matt Beers distance NAD Pro MTB in the final meters to claim a potentially decisive stage win. The sixth stage of the race, on Friday the 20th of October, featured a mammoth 2 700 metres of climbing and was won by the Team Ascendis Health duo of Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz in the UCI women’s competition. Click here to view the article
  19. The Swartberg Pass is an iconic feature of the Cape Pioneer Trek and after its absence in 2016, Dryland Event Management took the decision to reinclude the grand old dame in the 2017 event. The 95 kilometre long stage might have ended on the Swarberg Pass, but the National Monument’s roads – which date back to 1886 – only accounted for 800 metres of the total elevation gain, making the stage exceptionally brutal. Alan Hatherly and Matt Beers distanced Nico Bell and Gawie Combrink in the final 300 metres of the Swartberg Pass climb to claim victory on the Queen Stage of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Hayden Brown. Once again the NAD Pro MTB team did their best to drive up the pace in the early phases of the race, but without a second equally strong general classification team to counter punch and put Team Spur/Red-E under pressure they could not force a split from the yellow jersey wearers. Despite crossing some typically technical Klein Karoo terrain, which shook off the other UCI men’s teams Spur/Red-E and NAD Pro started the final climb together. “I tried to set a tough pace in the hope of dropping Alan [Hatherly]” Bell explained at the top of the Swartberg Pass. “It is impossible to set the pace and attack so Gawie [Combrink] tried to attack a few times, with the idea of me riding across to him if he got away. But Alan [Hatherly] and Matt [beers] were too strong and could follow every move” he concluded. “My legs felt terrible on the final climb, but somehow I hung in there. Then in the last 500 metres they started to feel better, miraculously, so I thought we might as well go for it and see if we could gain a few seconds” Beers said. “Alan [Hatherly] is like a little rat, he climbs so fast” he laughed, “and I’m like an ogre, so I just have to hang in there.” Matt Beers looks back as he makes the decisive attack on the upper reaches of the Swartberg Pass. Photo by Hayden Brown. The sixth stage win of 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, for Team Spur/Red-E saw them cross the line 8 seconds ahead of NAD Pro MTB and extend their general classification lead to 1 minute and 43 seconds. The third placed team on the general classification, KMC Fruit to Go, crossed the finish line on the summit of the pass 6 minutes and 41 seconds behind the stage winners. The result sees Bram Rood and Gerben Mos slip to 17 minutes and 31 seconds down on the overall time sheets. In the women’s race Team Ascendis Health made the going brutally tough for Team Spur/Valencia. By the 45 kilometre mark De Groot and Spitz had established a lead of 2 minutes and 45 seconds. It looked for all money as if Ariane Luthi and Amy-Beth McDougall would falter, allowing the pink jerseys to slip from their shoulders. Robyn de Groot reaches across to congratulate her Ascendis Health teammate, Sabine Spitz, on another stellar stage. Photo by Hayden Brown. After three stages of struggling to match her partner’s pace McDougall put in a race saving ride on stage 6. The Valencia rider was the dominant partner in the team on the stage and rescued Team Spur/Valencia’s Cape Pioneer Trek title hopes. “Amy [McDougall] was so strong today, she really helped me so much” a grateful Lüthi said. “We gave it our all today” a visibly spent De Groot accounted from the top of the Swartberg Pass. “But it was not to be.” “That is racing” her partner Spitz concluded. An exhausted Ariane Lüthi recovers while Amy-Beth McDougall smiles in the knowledge that the Team Spur/Valencia pairing did enough to hang on to their pink leaders’ jerseys going into the final stage of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Hayden Brown. Both the men’s and women’s races are far from decided however; the final stage, which takes in 1 150 metres of climbing in its 64 kilometre distance, dished up drama in last year’s edition of the Cape Pioneer Trek. The loose shale surfaces of Chandelier Game Farm provide for exhilarating mountain biking, but they can lead to serious mechanicals and spectacular implosions too. In 2016 both the Team Spur and Cape Brewing Co Elite squads lost their podium positions; after a side wall puncture for Julian Jessop, of Team Spur, and a complete draining of his energy reserves for Daniel Gathof saw both teams lose massive chunks of time. It remains all to race for then, with NAD Pro MTB and Team Ascendis Health afforded one final opportunity to topple Team Spur/Red-E and Team Spur/Valencia from the top of the men’s and women’s general classifications. To follow the action as it unfolds mountain biking fans can follow the event’s Twitter handle, @CapePioneerTrek, from 07:30 on Saturday morning. In addition to the live coverage on Twitter the highlights from every stage of the race can be viewed on the Cape Pioneer Trek Facebook page and the Dryland Event Management YouTube Channel from 20:00, Central African Time, daily. For more information on the Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, please visit www.capepioneer.co.za. Results: 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by BiogenUCI Men | Stage 6 1. Team Spur/RedE, Alan Hatherly & Matthew Beers (4:07:08) 2. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Gawie Combrink (4:07:17 | +00:08) 3. KMC Fruit to Go, Bram Rood & Gerben Mos (4:13:50 | +06:41) 4. Kelly’s Bikeranch Team, Jiri Krivanek & Marek Rauchfuss (4:14:09 | +07:00) 5. KTM Pro Team, Moritz Bscherer & Manuel Pliem (4:22:57 | +15:48) UCI Women | Stage 6 1. Team Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (4:33:12) 2. Team Spur/Valencia, Ariane Luthi & Amy-Beth McDougall (4:35:50 | +02:38) 3. Junto Ladies, Nicky Giliomee & Frankie du Toit (5:41:41 | +1:08:29) 4. Team Cape Brewing Company, Ila Stow & Marianne Bergli (5:44:29 | +1:11:17) 5. Team Bicycling, Jenna Borrill & Tandy Kitching (6:02:16 | +1:29:04) UCI Men | General Classification after Stage 6 1. Team Spur/RedE, Alan Hatherly & Matthew Beers (19:27:51) 2. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Gawie Combrink (19:29:35 | +01:43) 3. KMC Fruit to Go, Bram Rood & Gerben Mos (19:45:23 | +17:31) 4. Kellys Bikeranch Team, Jiri Krivanek & Marek Rauchfuss (20:01:56 | +34:04) 5. SPOT Africa, Derrin Smith & Timothy Hammond (20:13:33 | +45:41) UCI Women | General Classification after Stage 6 1. Team Spur/Valencia, Ariane Luthi & Amy-Beth McDougall (21:42:30) 2. Team Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (21:45:00 | +02:29) 3. Junto Ladies, Nicky Giliomee & Frankie du Toit (25:09:30 | +3:27:00) 4. Team Cape Brewing Company, Ila Stow & Marianne Bergli (26:18:35 | +4:36:05) 5. Team Bicycling, Jenna Borrill & Tandy Kitching (27:57:59 | +8:30:08) For all the results from the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen please click here.
  20. Stage five of the Cape Pioneer Trek headed over Montagu Pass from George through the Klein Karoo onto Oudtshoorn. The racing was fierce with some earlier breakaways and finish line sprints. Watch all the big moments from the day below. Click here to view the article
  21. The fifth stage of Cape Pioneer Trek took us from George to Oudtshoorn via Montagu Pass. Click here to view the article
  22. Once again, the day started with a neutral zone to navigate riders safely through the George morning traffic to the start of the pass. While getting dropped by the bunch in the neutral zone, I had a moment of self-doubt and wondered if I would survive the stage. It was a relief to hit the climb, settle into a rhythm and realise that it was all going to be ok. The pros smashing the climb. Find all the details of the days racing here. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.za The pass turned out to be a highlight of the route thus far: a dirt road winding gradually skywards, with a stone wall and epic views of the river valley to the left, and lush Garden Route forest to the right. The gradient was just right for setting a comfortable pace and it felt like we were at the top all too soon. The pass links George and the hamlet of Herold, and was opened in 1847 and is apparently the oldest, unaltered pass still in use in South Africa. We are now firmly in the Karoo and Ostrich territory. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaWe then snaked through Herold Farm on some fun forest trails before popping out at the first waterpoint. From there it was onto mostly dirt roads and it was incredible to see how quickly the terrain and vegetation changed from green forest, to Karoo veld and sharp shale rocks. Photo credit: Oakpics.co.zaThe headwind became intense, and we ground our way into it on kilometres of rolling district road. Things got more interesting as we headed into the Chandelier Game Reserve where we had loose shale surfaces to contend with and keep us concentrating. With about thirty kilometres to go, we only had 250 metres of climbing remaining, and it was a fast flat race to the finish, with a quick banana bread and chain lube stop at the final water point. Another stage done, another selfie to celebrate. Tomorrow is the queen stage: #SwartbergShowdown with a finish at the top of the infamous Swartberg Pass and 2700 metres of climbing over 95 kilometres. Tomorrow's route profile. You can find out more about the route here.
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