The 2019 PwC Great Zuurberg Trek, which takes place from the 24th to the 26th of May in the Zuurberg Mountains of the Eastern Cape, boasts a sold out field of stage race connoisseurs. In fact entries sold out within a month and given the race’s burgeoning reputation for superb riding and off-the-bike hospitality it is no surprise. There are therefore mountain bikers aplenty who will be watching jealously, from home, as the event unfolds.
When the field lines up, at the Zuurberg Mountain Inn to take on the 71 kilometre long opening stage, a number of South Africa’s top riders will be in attendance. Off the back of their stellar start to the year the race favourites are the Imbuko Giant team of Marco Joubert and Nicol Carstens. They will not have it all their own way however as the Bike Shop-SCOTT and Valley Electrical Titan Racing teams will have Joubert and Carstens in their sights. Rogan Smart and Aiden Connelly hail from Plettenberg Bay and have proved themselves a formidable combination in a number of three-day stage races over the last couple of years.
The PwC Great Zuurberg Trek explores the trails which traverse the mountainous Addo region of the Eastern Cape. Photo by Shayne Minott.
Rossouw Bekker and Marc Fourie meanwhile are still building their stage race reputations. The newly formed Valley Electrical Titan Racing squad is hungry for success though and are sure to push the more fancied Imbuko Giant team throughout the three days. Also lining up in the elite men’s category are the Exxaro Development Team, of Lucky Mlangeni and Shaun Baloyi, Team Engeli’s Richard Allan and Bruce Campbell, and the Saddle and Cleats combination, of Jason Peach and Andre Nelson.
The mixed category is headlined by the popular Team Garmin duo, Yolandi du Toit and Ben Melt Swanepoel; while the women’s race features none other than the South African marathon champion Robyn de Groot. De Groot is still finding her fitness and form after an iliac artery surgery in January. She returned to racing the week before the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek with a remarkably strong showing at the KAP sani2c and is cautiously building back towards her best.
The Team Garmin combination of Ben Melt Swanepoel and Yolandi du Toit are among the stars set to take part in the 2019 edition. Photo by Shayne Minott.
No South African mountain bike race would be complete without the presence of a Springbok rugby player on the start line. Corné Krige ensures the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek is no exception and the former Bok captain will line up alongside Llewellyn de Wet.
The PwC Great Zuurberg Trek’s route team have added more scintillating singletrack to the 209km route. Photo by Shayne Minott.
On the bike three fantastic days of riding await the participants. Stage 1 explores the Sundays River Valley region to the south of the race village. Stage 2 heads north into the Zuurberg Mountains and provides a spectacular 360 degree view over the Great Karoo and back towards the Indian Ocean far to the south from the highest point of the race. The third and final stage is the shortest of the event and is filled with scintillating singletracks, rewarding riders and ensuring they will depart with broad grins on their faces. In total the event takes in 209 kilometres of riding and an accumulated 4 250 metres of climbing.
Returning riders will be thrilled to read that the route has been updated and refined for the 2019 edition. In particular more singletrack has been added to compliment the already famous sections in the Hayterdale trail network. Trails like Rollercoaster, The Gorge, Corkscrew, Rabbit Hole and Trevor’s Surprise will keep riders smiling from ear-to-ear.
Stage 3 of the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek, in particular, features some of the best mountain biking the Eastern Cape has to offer. Photo by Shayne Minott.
Off the bike the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek is a completely wallet free event. From the moment riders cross the finish line of each stage their every need is taken care of. First Choice chocolate milks kick start the recovery process before Darling Brew craft beers or Beefeater Gins, blended to perfection with Fitch & Leedes mixers, ensure everyone enjoys a relaxed afternoon in the beautiful race village. The Zuurberg Mountain Inn provides four star hospitality throughout; proving to be far more than just the base camp from which the region can be explored by mountain bike.
The race village at the Zuurberg Mountain Inn boasts four star accommodation in the hotel and luxury camping in canvas dome tents. Photo by Shayne Minott.
Mountain biking fans can follow the action from the 2019 PwC Great Zuurberg Trek on the event’s social media channels. Race updates and insights into the luxurious stage race life at the event can be found on by following @zuurbergtrekker on Twitter and @great_zuurberg_trek on Instagram. Highlights and photo galleries from each stage of the race will be uploaded daily to the Great Zuurberg Trek Facebook page, so be sure to like it to see what you are missing. For more information – on the race, the region and what else to expect from the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek – visit www.greatzuurbergtrek.co.za.