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The 2021 aQuellé Tour Durban will be staged on 27 and 28 November with a cap of 4000 participants as the race organisers aim to give the event the best chance of being held to its traditional scale and standards during the pandemic.
With the country approaching the potential third wave of Covid-19 infections, it was felt that the provisional date in August was unrealistic, given the race’s commitment to ensuring that the event is staged in a safe and responsible manner, and at a level that allows it to contribute meaningfully to the race’s charity beneficiaries.
Race organiser Alec Lenferna said he was excited by the level of enthusiasm for the 2021 aQuellé Tour Durban based on the number of questions he has been fielding from riders around the country. He added that the decision to stage the race was done in conjunction with Cycling South Africa and all the local authorities.
“It is difficult to look into the crystal ball and to try and predict what is going to happen with the pandemic in South Africa,” said Lenferna. “The consensus of opinion from all the experts we have spoken to says that we will in all likelihood not be able to host the event in anything like its usual size and format in August.
“Cycling SA has found us a gap in their calendar at the end of November, and hopefully by that stage we will be in a good place to be able to stage the event, adhering to all the regulations that will be in place at that time,” said Lenferna.
“We will not be fully out of the lockdown by that stage, we are lead to believe, so we have put in place a plan that will ensure that we can stage the event and continue to support The Domino Foundation which is the race’s main beneficiary, in a meaningful way, as well as allow for people to be able to take part in events of this nature again” he added.
Lenferna said that the race will use the popular 45km loop up the M4 to Mdhloti and back, and offer a 45km, 90km and 135km option on Sunday 28 November, with the MTB races based in the vicinity of Cornubia Mall taking place on Saturday 27 November.
The road race elite racers will be started in small batches, after which the bulk of the field will be allowed to start in their own time during specific time periods to ensure social distancing is adhered to.
“It will be a mat-to-mat event. That means that each rider will be given a window of time during which time they can ride to the start, cross the timing mat and then complete their own ride.
“Once they are finished they will ride over the finish mat and then head back to their cars and return home, as there will be not prize giving, socialising or entertainment at People Park at Moses Mabhida Stadium, due to the current Covid – 19 parameters” he said.
Lenferna pointed out that there were around 1500 entries from the cancelled 2020 event that would be carried over to the 2021 event, leaving only 2500 entries available for riders when entries open on 2 August.
“By the time we host the aQuellé Tour Durban in November, we will all be so eager to ride and enjoy the occasion that we can look forward to celebrating being out on a bike together and enjoying this special part of our city,” he added.
“We are hashtagging the event #CelebrateTogether as something that we can all look forward to together, and show our resilience and optimism as Durbanites,” he said.