THE Great Zuurberg Trek mountain bike stage race, which announced a partnership with PwC earlier this week, is set to draw a top professional field for its second edition in late May.
Race director Brad Jackson, from Mountain Events, said some of the country’s top men and women riders had already expressed an interest in taking part in the Eastern Cape event. The three-day race takes place from May 30 to June 1 and traverses the picturesque Sundays River Valley, Addo Elephant National Park and the national cross-country course at Hayterdale Trails.
Jackson said his team had learnt a lot from the inaugural event last year, and had incorporated these lessons into improving this year’s experience.
“Last year saw riders starting and finishing at different places along a linear route, meaning that the logistics of transport and accommodation were quite complicated. This year, we really want riders to settle in and make the Zuurberg Mountain Village their home for the weekend. They will be able to relax there after a hard day’s riding and prepare for the next day’s challenge.”
Professional services provider PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) – which provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services – is the first of the so-called “big four” to sponsor a high-profile stage race.
According to partner in charge of the PE office Andrea Puggia, the event provides an ideal opportunity to expand PwC’s footprint in the province.
“We are very pleased to be the title sponsor of the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek and look forward to building relationships with our clients – and prospective clients – on the trails of the Eastern Cape.
“The province offers some wonderful cycling routes and venues and we’re very pleased to be able to support mountain biking in the region,” Puggia said.
The 89km opening stage of the new clover route crisscrosses the Sundays River and national park.
On day two, participants ascend into the mountains as they head north along the historical Voortrekker wagon route into the interior.
This 81km stage then takes them over the Zuurberg Pass and down into the vast open spaces of the Karoo.
The final stage over 61km sees cyclists riding along the southern slopes of the mountains on some of the country’s finest purpose-built single track.
Jackson said each stage offered a completely different riding experience, traversing four of the country’s seven biomes.
“Riders will find themselves transitioning from fynbos on the mountain tops to yellowwood forest along the riverbeds to Karoo savannah, often in a matter of kilometres.”
Jackson said he was thrilled at the commitment shown by PwC and believed that the association with the company could lead to the development of the event into one of the best stage races on the national calendar.
“We have no doubt that we have a winning formula, including some of the best mountain biking terrain in South Africa and a fantastic host venue, all set against a stunning backdrop in the Addo region.
“We see PwC’s commitment as the final ingredient that will make this one of the classic stage races on every mountain biker’s bucket list.”
Jackson said the race village was situated within an hour’s drive of the Port Elizabeth International Airport and shuttle services would be available for participants.
The official race beneficiary is the African Unity Foundation, which promotes educational upliftment in the area and works closely with local institutions like Hermitage House Primary School and the Addo Elephant National Park.
Enter online at www.greatzuurbergtrek.co.za. For updates, follow @zuurbergtrekker or find the race on Facebook.