Stage Racing in South Africa is about more than just the Cape Epic. The 7 day Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek starts on Sunday 12th October, and Chris Wolhuter will be reporting for MarathonMTB.com
5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and go…. Will be the last words each of the Pioneer racers will hear before they embark on their 7 day adventure through the Klein Karoo. With the race having upgraded to UCI status this year, and Dryland continually pushing the boundaries in terms of event organisation, the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek 2014 is sure to be a humdinger!
As I’m new to MarathonMTB.com a quick introduction to myself. I, Chris Wolhuter am a pro mountain biker on the Altech Autopage Team. I live in Cape Town, South Africa and am 26 years old (awkward, that sounded like a job interview). My team mate and good friend is Hanco Kachelhoffer, aka the Ginger Ninja. He has been around the pro scene for a little while longer than I, first plying his trade as a successful roadie and now on the dirt. Hanco is from the ‘big smoke’, aka Johannesburg and at 29 is almost old enough to be a sub vet. I will be bringing you an insight to the racing at the Pioneer over the next week.
The race kicks off on Sunday as each of the two rider teams will line up at Buffelsdrift for the prologue. #buffelsbattle will suit the XCO specialists, of which the event has no shortage. With a stack of valuable UCI points on offer, it has lured them like bees to the honeypot.
Notably the South African charge is led by the Scott Factory Racing Team who come off winning the Isuzu 3 Towers last weekend and will be challenged strongly by their fellow cross country counterparts Kargo Pro Racing.
The marathon racers will be keen to make their mark too, and whilst they may not be in the running to draw first blood, they will surely be a factor. Defending champions, Erik Kleinhans and Waylon Woolcock have split their partnership, with Erik teaming up with Nico Bell under the RECM banner and Waylon with Darren Lill for Cannondale Blend. The international teams are headlined by the Bulls with the WMTB.Be-Feenstra and Spanish pairing ESMTB.com in hot pursuit.
An interesting last minute change to take note of is reigning South African marathon champion, James Reid teaming up with the relatively unknown Austrian Herman Persteiner who comes off a string of impressive results, notably a second to Markus Kaufmann in the last two weeks.
We’re not done yet; the Ginger Ninja and I look forward to duelling it out with some of the best over the next few days. We will be keen to make our mark on the race, so keep a look out for us. Certain stages suit us better and we have ear marked those, but if I told you which ones, I’d have to kill you.
With class in order, all eyes skip inadvertently ahead to the second stage of the race, the #swartbergshowdown. With a cool R125 000($10 000) on offer to the first team on top of the Swartberg Pass, this race within the race, almost carries more weight than winning the overall GC.
Check in each day so see what goes down at the 5th edition of this spectacular race. We will be enjoying the Karoo’s finest trails along with an ostrich steak and glass of red.