Defending champions against rising mountain biking stars at Cape Pioneer Trek

Cape Pioneer Trek
Olympian and Under 23 World Championship silver medallist Alan Hatherly is South African mountain biking’s brightest star. Photo by Seamus Allardice

The 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, is nearly upon us and this year’s edition promises to be one of the most exciting yet. The seven day Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) accredited stage race boasts a field of riders from nineteen nations and takes place from Sunday the 15th to Saturday the 21st of October.

The elite men’s race sees the defending champions, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrink of NAD Pro MTB go up against South Africa’s rising mountain biking star Alan Hatherly; who will be pairing up with 2016’s form ride at the Cape Pioneer Trek, Matt Beers.

Riding in the colours of Red-E, Beers, is half of Team Spur/Red-E. “I wouldn’t say I was the strongest rider but I was very hungry and motivated to win. Unfortunately Erik fell ill on Stage One last year and then we had a really fun battle chasing back time” he reflected on the previous edition of the Cape Pioneer Trek. “I would say I have unfinished business for sure, because I think it is a race that really suits my strengths as a rider. Alan’s riding speaks for itself though! He is an absolute animal and a very clever rider when it comes to racing. We live and train together so we understand and know each other extremely well, which is such a vital aspect in stage racing especially during long, seven day, races. If there is one guy I want to go it to battle with Nico and Gawie against its Alan” Beers concluded.

For his part the Spur representative in the team, Alan Hatherly was a little more circumspect in his pre-race talk: “2017 has been a really great year for me – every important event was targeted and prepared for, which means I have not really been ‘over raced’. I’ve managed to get some really good preparation in so far for the Cape Pioneer and my numbers (watts) are looking spot on. I’m really excited to see what unfolds! Matt and I are a bit unsure of what to expect for Cape Pioneer, but we are definitely aiming for the podium spots. Just how high up on the podium we’ll have to wait and see!”

The international assault on the Cape Pioneer Trek title will come from a strong European field with Netherland, Austria and the Czech Republic well represented. The KTM Pro Team of Manuel Pliem and Moritz Bscherer are making their race debuts while fellow Austrian Lukas Islitzer of the Craft – Rocky Mountain Factory Team has returned for another crack at the event with compatriot Sascha Weber.

Last year’s solo men’s champion, Jiri Krivanek is another rider returning to the Cape Pioneer Trek and this time he has done so with a partner in tow. Marek Rauchfuss completes the Czech combination and the duo will be riding in the colours of Kelly’s Bikeranch. Krivanek was one of the most aggressive riders in last year’s race and he will almost certainly be on the offensive from the starter’s gun in Mossel Bay to the final finish line in Oudtshoorn.

The KMC Fruit to Go team of Bram Rood and Gerben Mos will be starting their third Cape Pioneer Trek on Sunday and Rood has fond memories of the event: “For us as European riders, it’s special to ride in Africa. In Africa there are fantastic trails and a lot of great events like the Cape Pioneer. The organisation is great, it is like a holiday trip with a bit of racing.  And it is the perfect moment to end our mountain biking season, especially with the nice weather.”

In 2016 Rood’s partner Mos found himself being chased down a section of singletrack by a juvenile giraffe, during Stage One. While it was a terrifying moment for the organisers the Dutch team looks back on it fondly. “Last year we have an amazing moment with the giraffe” Rood smiled.

The event will also feature the biggest international coverage in its nine edition history; with daily news and highlight productions which will be available globally on Facebook and YouTube. Rather than limit the audience by broadcasting to television; Dryland Event Management have taken the decision to commission daily television quality productions for social media, which mountain biking fans can watch for free at 20:00 throughout the event.

“With international riders making up nearly 30% of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, entrants it makes sense to provide their friends and families back home with the opportunity to watch the Cape Pioneer’s daily highlight shows” Henco Rademeyer, of Dryland Event Management explained. “We would like the viewers to make full use of the superb quality of videos Bigshot Media will be producing. If they can only watch the shows on their cell phones or computers that is okay, but ideally we would like people to tune in on their smart TVs or cast the videos from their phones to their TVs in order to appreciate the beauty of the Garden Route and Klein Karoo. And of course to immerse themselves in the racing action, because the elite line up for this year’s race is very exciting,” Rademeyer concluded.

The seven stages of the 2017 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, feature two journey stages – from Mossel Bay to George and from George to Oudtshoorn – and five exploration stages, including a mid-race time trial on Stage Four and the Queen Stage on Stage Six.


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