Thousands brave Amashova’s long road

2013-10-14 00:00

JUST under 14 000 cyclists braved colder weather to participate in the 27th Amashova Classic from Pietermartizburg to Durban yesterday.

The event isn’t yet quite as big as the Comrades Marathon, which covers the same route. However, the Amashova has still grown to become an iconic sporting event.

Especially when you consider that traffic authorities would only allow 150 cyclists to enter the first race in 1986. It is the country’s oldest classic cycle race and KZN’s biggest two-wheel event.

Some 10 000 athletes took part in the main event yesterday, the 106 km downhill route between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

The rest of the cyclists took part in the slightly easier, but no less exhilarating 65 km and 35 km races.

Colder weather may have kept some spectators away along the route, but there were thousands of supporters at the finish at Moses Mahbida Stadium.

Nolan Hoffman (28) from Cape Town won the men’s 106 km race. An-Li Kachelhoffer (26) of the Bestmed team from Johannesburg, was the first woman over the finish line.

Hoffman said race organisers had done a fantastic job in making the Amashova one of the country’s top cycling events.

“The organisation of the race — the full road closures and safety being made a priority — combined with the location makes this one of the three biggest events on the calendar, along with the Argus and the 94.7 [Cycle Challenge],” said the Capetonian.

“It was a big win for me,” Kachelhoffer said of her sixth Amashova. This was because she had come second in the last five cycle events she entered.

Cyclists left Pietermartizburg in slightly drizzly conditions early yesterday morning, but the weather cleared soon thereafter and the roads were dry for the rest of the route.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willlies Mchunu said at the prizegiving event that cycling was as much a sport as a mode of transport for many people.

He expressed concern that many cyclists were exposed to accidents on the road due to “arrogant road users who are not prepared to heed safety [regulations].”

Mchunu said the department intended to promote the cycling event in future.

The notion of having a bicycle race on the route of the world famous Comrades Marathon was initially the dream of veteran Springbok cyclist Dave Wiseman and his friend Tony McMillan.

According to the race’s website, resistance toward the race by traffic authorities continued until 1998, when just over 800 riders participated in the event.

Route changes to liven up the finish and the support of the eThekwini municipality changed the profile of the race and it grew quickly in subsequent years after that.

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