The Tour Durban race began as a chat between friends

2014-04-05 00:00

WHAT began as a casual conversation between friends soon transformed into something much bigger, the beginning of Durban’s leading cycling event, the Tour Durban.

When Mike Staphorst, former chairperson of King’s Park Cycling Club, and a friend started talking about the Cape Argus, South Africa’s biggest cycling event, they questioned why Durban could not have their own premier cycle race.

So with a determined mind and the invaluable help of Rotary, sponsorships from big names such as Swiss Air and Rainbow Chickens, and a dedicated team from the King’s Park Cycling Club, the first Tour Durban was a success with just over 2 000 entrants.

Staphorst was heavily involved with all logistics of the race and remembered the job being quite tough and demanding, especially in the days of faxes and no outsourced companies to help carry the load.

“I did almost everything, from entries, to data capturing to seeding,” said Staphorst. “But I always made sure I did absolutely nothing on race day, I couldn’t miss cycling the race I helped plan.”

One of the Staphorst’s highlights was the participation of the Mauritian team. After the King’s Park Cycling Club had visited the sunny island, they decided to return the favour and invited the Mauritian Cycling Club to the first Tour Durban, generating a lot of media stir.

Over the years, the route has changed somewhat and no longer includes the passage along the coastal road stretching from as far north as Shaka’s Rock. However, road closures in recent years have enabled the Tour Durban to recover some of the more picturesque routes.

Another route change has been along Kenneth Kaunda (previously called Northway) in Durban North. “I remember we used to cycle up Northway on the Sunday. We received complaints because people couldn’t get to church,” Staphorst explained.

Throughout the 21-year history of the Tour Durban, charity has always been at the heart of the event and the first Tour Durban raised approximately R15 000 for Rotary.

Now all proceeds from the event fall to the Domino Foundation, a Durban-based non-profit organisation working in KwaZulu-Natal’s largest informal settlement, Amaoti.

The race continues to promote Durban as a major sports complex in South Africa.

The aQuellé Tour Durban road races takes place on April 28. More information can be found at www.tourdurb­ an.co.za

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