Cape Town’s iconic race is to move its start away from the blustery civic centre. – By Jonathan Ancer
The Cape Doctor sent bikes flying into the air and riders crawling on the ground at the (non)start of this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour – but organisers have announced a solution to keep one step ahead of the wind. The plan is to move the start of the race from the wind-funnelling Hertzog Boulevard to the historic Grand Parade Precinct.
This year’s Cycle Tour was cancelled for the first time in 40 years after the infamous south-easter ripped through the city, gusting at over 100km/hr – with winds at the start the biggest issue.
“It was a tough call, but our riders’ safety could not be compromised,” said David Bellairs, a director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, at a press conference today.
Since the first event in 1978, the Cycle Tour has survived excessive rain, extreme heat, and devastating fires – but a raging south-easter finally saw the organisers cancelling the 2017 event. “You know you have an issue when you see footage of the mountain-bike World Champion leopard-crawling to safety because of the wind,” said Bellairs.
After studying the wind, the Cycle Tour decided that although there is no escaping the wind entirely, one way to mitigate risks would be to move the start from Hertzog Boulevard, which is the very worst place in the city centre for wind exposure. This year, wind vortices created by the tunnels at the base of the Civic Centre threw top cyclists around like rag dolls.
The start will now take place at the Grand Parade, where – under the backdrop of Table Mountain – riders will begin their 109km journey around the Cape Peninsula.
Western Cape Agriculture, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde congratulated the Cycle Tour for encouraging people to get on their bikes. “Cycling is a massive economic injection for the city and the province, contributing R1.5 billion to the Western Cape economy.
“It’s amazing to see so many Lycra bandits riding their bikes – and that’s due to the Cycle Tour,” he said.
Bellairs confirmed that riders who entered the 2017 Cycle Tour and collected their number will receive a guaranteed 2018 entry, prior to general entries opening.
The 2018 Cycle Tour takes place on 11 March.