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 it’s return after it’s lockdown-induced cancellation in 2020.
Staged under the banner of #CelebrateTogether the two days of riding starts with the new aQuellé Tour Durban MTB Challenge powered by CycleLab at the Cornubia Mall on Saturday morning, followed by four road races making up the aQuellé 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 5:45am 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 45km circuit to the eMdloti turning circle and back.
In line with the Cycling South Africa regulations the junior women will do 90km in their race, joining the racing peleton 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 8am.
The new 135km, 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 120km.
The two-lap 90km ride has attracted the biggest entry from the recreational riders, while the single-lap 45km 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.
19 year old Kloof pro Travis Stedman 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-up 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 aQuellé Tour Durban weekend of MTB and road races will also host the intervarsity USSA champs for 2021.
The race is staged annually to raise money for The Domino Foundation, which operates a wide variety of community projects north of Durban.
East Coast Radio breakfast show presenter Darren Maule will be riding in the charity batch at the front of the 45km ride, in the company of a number of former rugby stars including Trevor Halstead, Jeremy Thomson, Skipper Badenhosrt, Nico Breedt, Rowan Morgan, Henry Coxwell, Wayne Munn and John Slade and a dozen riders who have made an extra donation to The Domino Foundation to get into the batch.
While the event is usually a popular networking and hospitality opportunity, the race is being run under strict rules to comply with the current lockdown laws, meaning that riders will be expected to arrive shortly before their start batch and leave soon after finishing their race.
Registration takes place at CycleLab Cornubia on Friday and 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 4am 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.