Though the UK can’t boast a lot in the way of stage races, they are incredibly popular around the world and for good reason. They’re one hell of a challenge, requiring you to be fit enough to ride or race your bike for an entire week. Riding through spectacular landscapes that you’ve probably never witnessed before will take your mind off the fatigue however.
If you’re up for a challenge and want the ultimate goal to prepare for, stick a stage race on your calendar.Absa Cape Epic 2013, South Africa – March 17-24
Without doubt one of the biggest events on the mountain bike calendar, the Cape Epic is an eight day race through the stunning landscape around Cape Town. I raced it a couple of years ago and it left an indelible imprint on my memory. The terrain is fantastically challenging and the conditions are hot; it’s incredibly dusty. You get value for money as well, with 800km of racing and over 15,000m of climbing over some of the most magnificent passes in South Africa.
Rachel Fenton will be covering the 2013 event for Bike Magic, read her introducing feature here.
Event website: Absa Cape Epic 2013BC Bike Race 2013, Canada – June 29 – July 6
A stage race that places more emphasis on the quality of the trails than the distance of climbing – though with seven stages and 60km each day it’s not lightweight – and even includes timed gravity stages. Traversing from Vancouver to Whistler, it’s one of riders who really appreciate their technical riding and don’t want to follow a training plan to prepare for it. Sounds fantastic, only problem is it’s so popular it’s already sold out. 2014 though…
Event website: BC Bike Race 2013La Ruta de Los Conquistadores 2013, Costa Rica – October 24-26
It may be ‘only’ three days of racing, but it’s widely reported by anyone who has taken part to be one of the toughest challenges on a mountain bike. In the three days you’ll ride 259km and climb over 6,300m, my legs hurt just reading those stats. Racing from the Pacific west coast to the Caribbean east coast, the terrain is is tough with some of the least hospitable natural terrain to ride/carry/drag the bike over.
Event website: La Ruta de Los Conquistadores 2013TransAlps 2013 – July 13-20
The TransAlps is the oldest stage race on the calendar and the event that proved racing for a week is popular with mountain bikers, as it went on to spawn many rivals for its crown. It’s an eight day race across the Alps and as you might imagine there’s a fair amount of climbing, a sweat inducing 20,000m! That’s over twice the height of Everest. And it’s packed into 680km. Ouch. For endurance riders, this has to be the ultimate challenge.
Event website: TransAlps 2013Crocodile Trophy 2013, Australia – October 19-27
The Crocodile Trophy, which has been running for 18 years, has to be one of the toughest of the stage races, and that’s without considering the chance of encountering an actual croc. The race is run over nine stages, totalling 855km, with some days well over 147km in distance and with 2,700m of climbing. There’s also the extreme heat of the tropical North Queensland to contend with.
Event website: Crocodile Trophy 2013
A few other events I didn’t have space to mention include Iron Bike, TransPortugal, TransGermany, Yak Attack, TransRockies, Trans Pyr and of course there’s the Andalucia Bike Race which we covered extensively last week. I’m sure there a few more I’ve missed too.
Which have you got your sights on?