It's back! The Pioneer mountain bike stage race returns with new dates, moving to 25 to 30 November 2018, and a new six-day format. The updates have been revealed by race founder and IRONMAN Oceania Managing Director Dave Beeche in a Facebook post today.

After immensely challenging and visually incredible events in 2016 and 2017, the decision was taken to delay the next race as organisers took stock of the event, the timing and the format – all considerations with the long-term success of The Pioneer in mind.

Learn more about mountain bike stage racing.

The Pioneer into the future

Beeche is delighted to again capture the imagination of the mountain bike community in New Zealand and abroad, with riders arriving in to Queenstown for the six-day race starting November 25, 2018.

“We are back! The Pioneer will be better than ever thanks to the time taken these past few months to review the format, location and course,” said a delighted Beeche.

“November 2018 will see a six-stage race, with riders starting in Queenstown and exploring the remote back country of the South Island, finishing back in Queenstown with six challenging days of riding.”

Beeche says the heart and soul of The Pioneer has been retained, with the two-person team format taking riders on an amazing week of riding through and over some of the most stunning landscapes in the world.

“The team has done an amazing job in creating a new course that will be as challenging as ever and with more single track to enjoy. There will be some incredible climbs that will see our riders finding character for sure, with stunning views to take in along the way.

“Spending six days with your mate riding in the back country is a huge part of the experience, so we have stayed true to that ethos of the event, this is something to be shared for sure.”

One of the most significant changes is the nature of the course, with The Pioneer starting and ending in Queenstown. This will make it easier for riders and supporters to participate and follow the event, and provide a further boost to the already world-class tourist region of Central Otago, away from the busiest time of the year.

Riders will again have the chance to secure entry to the unofficial world championship of mountain bike stage racing in South Africa, with five age group winners (five), five age group runners up (five) and five lottery winners securing a place at the Absa Cape Epic for 2019.

“The team and I are really excited to bring the Pioneer back and can’t wait to reveal more information over the next few months and welcome everyone to the start line in November next year.”

How do I train for a mountain bike stage race?

Beeche says riders are in for another amazing week and will love the course, which will be revealed in early November.

“We appreciate the patience and understanding of our stakeholders and in particular the riders - those who have already taken part and want to return, and the many who have indicated their keenness to be a part of the next race.”

Demand for entries is expected to be high, with Beeche saying many riders have registered their interest already for 2018.

“Without question the demand for entries will be higher than the previous two editions. We have a large database already from here in New Zealand and around the world, all keen on each update and titbit of information. We are recommending that riders be ready for November 24th when entries go live.”

For some riders that will mean finding a team mate. The event website allows the uploading of profiles to find a Pioneer team mate, and organisers also host a ‘find a team mate’ Facebook group, details again can be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

Entries will go live on Friday 24 November, a year and one day out from the 2018 event rolling away from Queenstown. Interested riders can register on the event website now to receive all notifications and updates in the lead up to entries going live.

New this year is the option of an entry fee payment plan for athletes. This option will be available for a limited period, opening 24 November 2017 and closing 25 March 2018 and allows entry fees to be spread out across four payments.