Following on from success in the 2017 Pioneer 7-day mountain bike race in New Zealand where Steve Butler and Phil Murphy (Team PSC) were hoping for a top 20 finish and were stoked to finish in 8th overall with a total ride time of 29 hours and 37 minutes, the biking duo decided to put in an entry for the 2018 Pioneer with the support of PSC.
The event format changed quite significantly between 2017 and 2018. The event was reduced from 7 days to 6 days, however there was still a similar amount of climbing at around 15,000 vertical metres. Previously each stage was a point-to-point race with the journey heading from Christchurch to Queenstown, but the new format had the event starting and finishing in Queenstown, with only 2 of the days being point-topoint stages and the rest being a loop starting and finishing at the same location.
The entry allocation had doubled in size between 2017 and 2018, the entries were capped at 550 teams, and sold out months prior to the event. The field included 47% of international riders.
The race started off with a prologue (a quick 21km time-trial style event at Coronet Peak) and then 6 days of very hard mountain bike racing through challenging trails and some of the best scenery in New Zealand. The PSC team rode very well finishing in 10th place overall in the general classification, which was a good position given the number of teams entered and the calibre of the competition. The 2018 Pioneer was a great experience, full of plenty of fun and the team thanks PSC for their support.