New record at SA's toughest single-day MTB race

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Inspired views but challenging terrain, define the Attakwas (Photo: ZC Marketing Consulting)
Inspired views but challenging terrain, define the Attakwas (Photo: ZC Marketing Consulting)
  • Billed as South Africa’s most challenging single-day mountain bike race, the Attakwas isn’t a leisurely day on the bike
  • It routes from Oudtshoorn and finishes at the Great Brak river
  • Usually scheduled for January, the August event date saw more water and river crossings than before 

Belgium’s Paris-Roubaix is one of the world’s most revered single day cycling races. It is also known as the Hell of the North.

In South Africa, there is a Hell of the South – the Attakwas extreme.

As tough a single day mountain bike event as you could imagine, it takes riders through the Attakwas biosphere.

Karoo mountain bike
A late winter Attakwas saw riders not having to deal with searing heat (Photo: ZC Marketing Consulting)

The Attakwas is truly extreme

Starting in Oudshoorn and finishing at the coastal vacation town of Great Brak, this year’s Attakwas was the fifteenth edition of South Africa’s most testing single-day race.

Long climbs with loose Karoo rocks and shale can force even the most confident riders to dismount and push.

Beyond the 121km of race distance and 2900m of elevation,  heat is ordinarily the tipping point issue for most Attakwas riders. But not this year.

The pandemic forced organisers to move the traditional January race date to August – which means a much colder morning start and trickier river crossings.

karoo mountain bike
Race winner, Wessel Botha, on the left (Photo: ZC Marketing Consulting )

Breaking a seven year old record

A young rider dominated the sharp end of the field at this year’s Attakwas. The winner was 22-year old Wessel Botha, who set a new course record of 4:46:22.

This time bested the previous record, set in 2014 by Switzerland’s Urs Huber, by 01:34. What makes Botha’s achievement even more impressive is that he rode an additional 1.5km, as the course was rerouted due to rain damage.

In the women’s race, experience proved superior, with 48-year old Yolande de Villiers winning in a time of 05:59:23.

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