Wartburg hosts Road Cycling Champs

2015-01-21 00:00

THE rural town of Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg will play host to the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) Road Cycling Championships from February 9 to February 14, the first time that South Africa has hosted the continental road cycling showcase event.

The three days of time trials and road races will follow immediately after the South African Road Championships in Mbombela, providing a key fortnight opportunity for elite road cyclists to test themselves and earn crucial Olympic qualifying points for their federation in the ­process.

Interest in the event has been strong, with 26 African nations entering for the event.

The time trial and road races will use the tried-and-tested courses used for the UWCT Final in 2012, using 24 km and 42 km laps between ­Wartburg and Harburg to stage the elite, U23 and junior races for men and women.

The UWCT Final in 2012 drew positive feedback from the riders, who appreciated the tough but fair courses set out against a backdrop of full road closure.

Event director Alec Lenferna said the African Road Championships was the biggest road cycling event that South Africa has ever hosted, and said Cycling South Africa had earned the respect of the continental and international governing bodies through hosting nine major road, BMX, track and MTB events since the Worlds View Challenge races in 2008.

He added that the Wartburg venue ticked a lot of boxes by virtue of the experience gained at the UWCT Final and the Msunduzi Road Challenge.

“The local community is very accommodating and welcoming,” said Lenferna. “Everyone from the marshals to the traffic police and the city officials now fully understand the road cycling events, which will make it logistically easier to organise.”

The event has been arranged outside of sugarcane cutting season to ensure there is no adverse effect on farmers needing to use the road, and to reduce the amount of road cleaning that will need to be done to remove sugarcane from the roads.

“We have also set the races between 9 am and 1 pm so that we don’t affect local residents who need to use the roads for daily requirements like taking and fetching children from local schools,” said Lenferna.

“We are hosting the CAC Track champs in Pietermaritzburg in Jan­uary, then the CAC Road Champs less than a month later, and in April we will be introducing a brand new MTB Festival at the Cascades MTB Park over the Easter long weekend.”

Entrance for spectators is free of charge.

PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

February 9 — Team Time Trials

February 10 — Junior Men and Women Time Trials

February 11 — Elite and Under 23 Men and Women Time Trials

February 12 — Junior Men and Women Road Race

February 13 — Elite Women Road Race

February 14 — Elite and Under 23 Men Road Race

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