Top MTB cyclists for Cape Pioneer Trek

More than 400 riders from 15 countries are expected to line up at this year's edition of the Cape Pioneer Trek, which starts in the Western Cape on Sunday.

The race, which was granted an International Cycling Union (UCI) race status, has attracted a very competitive international field.

The course will take the riders through three different eco-regions over a distance of 574km with 11,958 metres of vertical ascent during the seven days.

The main contenders in the men’s race include the Team RECM pair of Erik Kleinhans and Nico Bell, who were overall winners in 2013 and 2012, as well as the all-German Team Bulls pairing of Tim Bohme and Simon Stiebjahn.

Also in the hunt for podium places are the Cannondale Blend duo of Waylon Woolcock and Darren Lill and the SCOTT Factory Racing team of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes. Woolcock won the race with Kleinhans last year, while Buys and Beukes confirmed their good form after winning the tough Mankele 3 Towers three-day race last weekend.

The women’s race will be without defending champions Ariane Kleinhans and Anika Langvad, but it will boast more depth than before.

Former marathon world champion Esther Süss of Switzerland and former multiple Cape Epic podium finisher Theresa Ralph of South Africa have teamed up and will be considered the pre-race favourites.

They will be up against the pairing of South African marathon champion Robyn de Groot and Swedish marathon champion Jennie Stenerhag.

– Sapa 

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