Cyclists from across the country will come together for the 2021 edition of the aQuellé Tour Durban this weekend as the iconic Durban classic marks its return after its lockdown-induced cancellation in 2020.
Staged under the banner of #CelebrateTogether the two days of riding starts with the new Tour Durban MTB Challenge powered by CycleLab at the Cornubia Mall on Saturday morning, followed by four road races making up the Tour Durban on Sunday.
Saturday's MTB programme includes a 40km route that takes riders out towards the King Shaka International Airport and shares much of the route used by the more novice-friendly 20km ride.
Sunday’s road programme kicks off at 5.45 am with the 101km race for the elite and licenced riders, starting with a fast, short lap from the Moses Mabhida stadium to the Swapo Road interchange in Durban North and back, before setting off on two laps of the 45 km circuit to the eMdloti turning circle and back.
In line with the Cycling South Africa regulations, the junior women will race 90 km, joining the peloton after the 11km start lap has been completed.
Once the elite riders have passed through the race start area at Moses Mabhida stadium for the last time, the first of the three recreational rides start at around 8 am.
The new 135 km, three-lap race along the scenic coastal M4 freeway has been introduced to meet the demand from the more serious cyclists keen to race over 120 km.
The two-lap 90 km ride has attracted the biggest entry from the recreational riders, while the single-lap 45 km ride puts the aQuellé Tour Durban within the easy reach of the casual riders, as well as the hand cyclists and unicycle fans.
Despite the race falling on the same weekend as the Coronation Double Century in the Western Cape, the 101km aQuellé Tour Durban elite race has attracted a very strong field to the Durban classic.
Battling it out
Kloof pro Travis Stedman (19) will feel the pressure of being the new champion of the 947 Ride Joburg title after his stunning win in Gauteng last weekend, and will be eager to show more of that form to his hometown fans.
While he will have the support of his Shesha Fuels team mates, he will need it as the ENZA team has a strong track record in Durban and boasts several former winners of this event, including Nolan Hoffman and the defending champion Steven van Heerden.
The women’s race looks just as absorbing. With strong teams like Sandton City Cycle Nation and Customized Cycling Bioplus sending full strength line-ups to the race, the odds will be stacked against a gutsy solo breakaway winning the women’s title, as has happened regularly in recent years.
The Tour Durban weekend of MTB and road races will also host the intervarsity USSA champs for 2021.
Registration takes place at CycleLab Cornubia on Saturday. The MTB races are sold out, and there are only 300 places available in the road races, which will be allocated on a first-come-first serve-basis at registration.
Full road closure from 4 am to 2 pm.
1. Masabalala Yengwa Ave North and South up to Walter Gilbert road.
2. M4 North and South between Argyle Road and Umdloti circle.
3. Argyle Road East bound up until Masabalala Yengwa Ave.