Pioneer Partners with World Renowned Cape Epic

By Gracie Productions

After just one edition The Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race’s reputation as one of the world’s leading mountain bike races has been further underlined in a stunning new partnership effective for the second Pioneer race next February. 
Riders in the 2017 edition of the race through the Alps from Christchurch to Queenstown have received a massive boost with a formal relationship with the greatest mountain bike stage race of them all, the ABSA Cape Epic in South Africa.
A total of ten entries to Cape Epic (March 2018) have been set aside for The Pioneer riders, with five going to category winners* and a further five being awarded in a draw, giving all entrants in The Pioneer a shot at the amazing Cape Epic, an event that sells out (literally in seconds) every year, leaving many around the world having to rely on a draw to gain a start.
It was IRONMAN Oceania Managing Director Dave Beeche who created The Pioneer and oversaw the first incredible event in February this year. Now based in Australia, Beeche is thrilled at the connection between the two events and the chance for Pioneer riders to earn a spot at the Cape Epic for 2018.
“The Cape Epic is undoubtedly the pinnacle of mountain bike stage racing in the world, and to be able to offer our Pioneer riders the opportunity to qualify for a race that is extremely difficult to get into, adds prestige and ups the stakes for The Pioneer that will appeal to many riders”, said Beeche. “To be able to offer a draw as well with much better odds than the world wide draw makes this opportunity accessible for all levels of rider.” 
Kevin Vermaak, founder of the Cape Epic emphasized that very point when discussing the partnership.
"Early bird entries to the Cape Epic sell out in seconds and the draw is heavily oversubscribed every year. We are therefore happy to announce that it is now possible to qualify for the Cape Epic through our partner event in New Zealand, the Pioneer. This is the first, small step in creating a global mountain bike series of stage races that culminate in the Cape Epic.” said Vermaak.
*The five Cape Epic entries awarded to category winners will come from the following categories in The Pioneer: 
  • Open Men
  • Open Women
  • Open Mixed
  • Masters 40+ 
  • Grandmasters 50+ 
In the event of any of the winning combinations (the 7-day Pioneer is raced in pairs) not taking up their entry to Cape Epic the slot will roll down in that category until the slot is taken.
“The Pioneer is an event that lends itself to teams being as competitive as they wish to be and for some that is not a priority at all as they choose to race the event at their own pace throughout a tough week in stunning surroundings”, Beeche went on to say. 
“But for those who are chasing a podium finish or indeed a category title, this adds real spice to an already challenging week and will see teams keeping a close eye on their competition. Suddenly the general classification at the end of each stage will take on a little more meaning. The prize of an entry to the Cape Epic will reverberate through the mountain bike community.”
Having the five spots in a draw format is also important for The Pioneer, affording those further down the field a rare shot at taking on the Cape Epic, an event that is incredibly difficult to secure an entry to given its popularity and worldwide demand for entry spots. This draw will occur at the end of The Pioneer and will roll down on the day until all five spots have been accepted.
The popularity of The Pioneer is already growing on the back of a hugely successful first up event in 2016, with the demand for entries up considerably for the 2017 event. Riders can enter either The Pioneer 7-day Epic (teams of two) or ride in the 4-Day Traverse (solo). Entries are still open for both events, visit for more information.

The event takes place in 2017 from Saturday 5th February with the opening prologue stage around the new (yet to be officially opened) Christchurch Mountain Bike Park and ends on Saturday 11th February in Queenstown, with riders by then having covered an amazing 549km of riding, with 15,824m of climbing through some of the most stunning parts of the world you will ever ride through, let alone New Zealand.

Beeche says the partnership with the Cape Epic further positions The Pioneer amongst the elite mountain bike stage races on the planet, a reputation that was earned on the back of a stunning first up event earlier this year.

“We had a strong representation of international riders for the first Pioneer, including a number of reputable journalists and bloggers and professional riding teams with extensive experience of these stage events around the world. The response from them was resounding, endorsing the event as being amongst the best organised and most enjoyable of any they had ridden, and yet still amongst the most challenging.”
“The Pioneer set a gold standard for quality that most events take years to reach, and it pushed riders beyond their mental and physical boundaries, and then pushed them some more” – Yuri Hauswald, 
“Find Stunning, Find Character, Find Welcome, proclaimed the organisers. It was no riddle, as all of these things were front and centre from the moment the race began. Stunning landscapes, character building challenges and warm Kiwi hospitality.” Spencer Paxson, Kona Bicycles Endurance Team. 

* Please note that conditions apply in regards the uptake of both category winner entries and draw entries to the ABSA Cape Epic. These conditions are available in full on the event website CLICK HERE for details.
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