Johannesburg - The Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race has been granted International Cycling Union (UCI) race status for 2014, organisers announced on Friday.
The seven-day stage race and the Cape Epic are the only South African stage races that hold a UCI grading.
The Cape Pioneer Trek, which takes place each year in late October in the Western Cape province, will begin as a UCI S2 level status event.
It is the first tier of three for international stage races and can improve its grading over time.
"We are very pleased with this news as it's been on our list of goals for some time," race director Henco Rademeyer said in a statement.
"It's essentially a badge of prestige that attracts a higher level of international riders at the competitive end of the race."
The fifth edition of the Cape Pioneer Trek, which takes place from October 20 to 26, has attracted some of the biggest names in the world of women's marathon mountain bike racing.
The UCI grading will ensure even more top women and a strong international men's field in 2014.
A race with UCI status is obliged to offer a minimum amount of prize money in Euros down to at least 10th position in the men and women's Elite categories on each stage and in the general classification rankings at the end of the event.
Graded events also offer UCI rankings points to top performing riders.