After 8 straight days of racing which started in Rooiberg, Mpumalanga, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck rode away victors at the 2016 Cape Pioneer Trek.
A short recap of the 8 days :
Day 1 – After flying from Mpualanga on Sunday morning, Nico and Gawie jumped off the plain and straight into action with the opening Prologue stage. The 13km stage which had just over 300m of ascent suits XC style riding and once again Team NAD showed their diversity to claim 3rd position on the day, just over 1 minute down on early leaders Beers and Kleinhans.
Day 2 – Stage 1 | A scenic 95km loop with 1750m of ascent around the scenic Mossel Bay area blew the race wide open and this is where our riders excelled. Early leaders Beers and Kleinhans suffered from fatigue and were not able to match the pace. Nico and Gawie rode a steady pace and were able to open a considerable gap on the rest of the field and secured the leaders yellow jerseys on the first day of racing.
Day 3 – Stage 2 | A journey from Mossel Bay to George. Riders had to finish a 99km route with over 2000m of ascent to reach camp on day 3 in George. The day started like any other, yellow jerseys on, bikes and bodies ready to race. The drama that unfolded on stage 2 almost cost us the lead. Estonian pairing Pruus and Tarvis came within 13 seconds of taking the overall lead of the race. Nico and Gawie had a few technical problems on the route which saw their commanding lead fade as the stage went on. Both our riders kept calm and carried on with business in a professional way and made it to the finish hanging onto the lead, just. The race now saw NAD lead the Estonians by 13 seconds and CBC Elite in 3rd place, just 5 minutes down on the race leaders.
Day 4 – Stage 3 | Was no doubt the day where the XC riders would make their move. 57km with 90% single track. A boy racer’s dream, a marathon racer’s nightmare. Once again the combination of Bell and Combrinck showed their class and finished the stage in second place. Beers and Kleinhans found their racing legs and the stage came down to a sprint. Having worked hard for the stage victory, Beers and Kleinhans were deserving victors. NAD gained more time on the GC and were back in the lead with a commanding time difference.
We've reached the halfway point of the Cape Pioneer Trek - with the Yellow Jerseys on our backs. "The team has raced for 5 days straight now, and today was an explosive stage. We've pulled a gap on the General Classification and that allows us to play it safer now. From now on strategy will play a big part.” - Nico Bell
"Tomorrow will suit us a bit more," said Gawie. "The Montagu Pass going over the Outeniqua Mountains will be more to our riding style - and we'll watch our competitors closely.”
Day 5 – Stage 4 | While the race reached the halfway point and our riders had a commanding lead, the battle was far from over. The 94km from George to the Karoo region caught out many teams with mechanical problems. The temperatures reached mid 30’s and racing was hot as ever. Kleinhans and Beers seemed to have found a second wind and made the race hard from the start. NAD’s 10 minute lead at the start of the day got slashed by more than 7minutes as they faced many obstacles on stage 4. An unfortunate cut in the tire meant that the team had to stop frequently to re inflate the tire until they reached the tech zone where they could finally change a wheel.
“We repaired it, but the tire lost pressure again and then I smacked something which caused further damage. We did not panic though. We had a decent buffer and did not overextend ourselves on the the day. We still feel good for the last two days” - Gawie Combrinck
Day 6 – Stage 5 | On the penultimate stage of the 2016 race, our men lost more time to the stage victors, but held a commanding lead of over 8 minutes on second position. It was again the pairing of Beers and Kleinhans who were more than 15 minutes down on GC who staked their claim on the stage. With no threat to the overall lead, Nico and Gawie could race to their own tactic and play the waiting game. They let the other teams battle it out for the minor positions and made sure they reached the finish line in good condition, ready to fight it out for the final stage.
“ The key is to stay calm, take it easy and stay smooth “ - Nico Bell
Day 7 – Stage 6 | Nico and Gawie fittingly won the final stage of the 2016 Cape Pioneer Trek which ended on Saturday 22 October in Oudshoorn. They played it safe early on and waited for the opportune moment before launching a final attack that saw them claim victory. While the competition suffered from mechanicals and technical problems, our men made it count when it mattered most.
“Its the first time that we rode the Pioneer together in 4 years. We were very excited before the race to take on the new route. The goal was some stage wins and get a solid block of racing into the legs. After the prologue and the first stage, we turned to each other and said Shake and Bake. It was an amazing route and we had fun during the race. We stayed calm when there were problems and it paid off. We are very happy to win the overall and the final stage “ - Gawie Combrinck
“My last attempt at the pioneer was in 2014 with Erik. I was excited to race with Gawie after we won the race in 2012. Racing was close this year and we had to keep calm during testing situations. We worked well together and rode a tactical race which paid off for us. We are both very happy to win the race and we are happy that we could make our sponsors, friends and family proud with this performance “ - Nico Bell.
A proud moment for the team. Thank you for the amazing support this year.
Gawie Combrinck is coached by Hunter Allen PCG Master Elite Coach