The aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers on Sunday, 29 April will introduce a huge field of elite and recreational cyclists that will take to the streets on Sunday, soaking up the Durban Autumn weather and savouring the full road closure to celebrate the 25th anniversary.
Many of the country’s best road racers will converge on Moses Mabhida stadium for the 6:15am start on Sunday morning, many of them travelling straight from the Tour de Limpopo that ended on Thursday, with all the major teams keen to scoop the title at the Durban classic.
Team BCX will come into the event as the juggernaut to topple if any other teams have ambitions of claiming rights to the top step of the podium. Their team includes seasoned pro riders ready to take either Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and defending Tour Durban Champion Clint Hendricks to the line or multiple Tour Durban winner Nolan Hoffman.
The ProTouch outfit will be a threat throughout, capable of taking Reynard Butler to the title against some of his former team mates.
There will be significant local support for the Under 23 Office Guru Racing team that is spearheaded by Umhlanga raised Ryan Harris, now racing out of Johannesburg as a full time pro. Harris has rattled plenty of cages this year, and snatched podium places from far more fancied riders.
The women’s race will draw on a smaller elite field, which places more pressure on the individual riders to manage their races, particularly riders that have come off the Limpopo UCI event or the nine-stage Old Mutual joberg2c mountain bike race.
The 100km classic will feature small route changes this year as the out-and-back M4 loop has been shortened by eight kilometres and will now turn at the Mdloti bridge instead of the Desainager Circle.
That distance will be made by an eight kilometre lap starting in a northward direction from the race base at Moses Mabhida stadium, turning at Blue Lagoon before returning to the familiar route through the City of Durban towards Margaret Mncadi Avenue on the Victoria Embankment and onto the M4 Southern Freeway.
The elite racing teams and individual riders will start in the first batch at 6:15am, followed by batches at regular intervals over the next hour.
The cyclocross race that covers 55 kilometres and includes ten kilometres of off-road riding for the mountain-bikers gets under way from Moses Mabhida at 09:10am, followed fifteen minutes later by the first of the batches in the popular 45 kilometre Family Fun Ride. Both rides are based on the loop up the M4.
The race once again guarantees riders the luxury of full road closure to safeguard every cyclists on the course. The race officials have committed to re-opening the roads in conjunction with the Durban Metro Police management as soon as the last riders have been confirmed to have cleared off each segment of the route.
While the race celebrates the opportunity for riders of all abilities to enjoy the typically reliable Autumn weather and riding on full road closure, the charity ethos that underpins the event will be at the forefront of every riders mind.
The biggest beneficiary of the event is the Domino Foundation, a community-based charity that operates in the Amaoti, Phoenix and Waterloo areas north of Durban, providing services that range from a babies’ home to feeding, early childhood development, life skills and skills development, Red Light anti-human-trafficking and a recycle Swop Shop.
Many riders will don the Domino Foundation colours for the race as an extra contribution to the ground-breaking charity, while others will volunteer to help that the registration and then man the Domino Foundation watering point on the route.
Also prominent will be the dozens of riders in their gaudy black-and-white bovine costumes and riding kit representing The Cows, raising money for the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation in their trademark boisterous and spirited style.
Durban organiser of The Cows Iris Varty will tough out the full 100km distance with her daughter Lauren, both donning the furry Cow costumes that have helped make the organisation famous.
The 45 kilometre race has become a platform for recreational riders to compete in a wide variety of different bikes, and every year there are tandems, fold-up bikes, unicycles and many other unusual pedal craft.
The race’s presenting sponsors Bridge Fund Managers have once again formalised the hand cycle class for handicapped riders, offering prize money for the top hand cyclists, and facilitating the participation of these athletes in the normal batches of the 45 kilometre race where they enjoy plenty of support from the others riders in the race.
The day will conclude with a free Kids race held at the track at the Peoples Park at Moses Mabhida Stadium at 11am, where youngsters can emulate their parents and earn a free aQuellé cold drink and a Hubertos ice cream.
While excellent entries have been received for mall three races, many last minute requests have been received by the race organisers, particularly with the excellent weather forecast for the weekend.