Is Stage 2 at the 2012 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek the hardest mountain bike race stage ever?
At least that’s what the pundits over at SuperSport are saying in the lead up to the seven-stage race, which begins in the heart of South Africa on October 14.
Just look at the elevation map (scroll to see Stage 2).
After a set of modest climbs during the Prologue and Stage 1, racers are expected to climb fast and furiously up an unforgiving, usually unrideable asphalt road in Stage 2. The stage features 2,760 meters of total vertical ascent, including a calf-busting 1,100 meters over the final 12 km to the top of the Swartberg Pass.
From there, it’s all downhill to Stage 3, but it’s unclear how many racers will make it that far. Although pro teams will be competing at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek, amateurs will make up the field as well.
All will be competing on the course, and Stage 2 in particular, for an unprecedented cash prize: 100,000 Rand ($11,250) for the man or woman who finishes first at Stage 2.
But there’s a catch. To prevent racers from focusing only on the most valuable and challenging stage, the Stage 2 winner must also finish the whole race in the top 5 total to score the Stage 2 payday.
So climb hard, amateurs. And keep enough gas in the tank to finish strong. A lot to ask. A lot to earn.