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As entries start to pick up steam for the aQuellé Tour Durban road races on Sunday 28 November, the organisers have confirmed plans to stage the elite races over a familiar fast 101km route on the M4.
As has been done in the past, the elite men and women will start the race with an 11km loop to the Swapo Road interchange in Durban North before heading back to the start venue at the Moses Mabhida Stadium where they will then complete two full 45km laps of the M4.
“The 100km distance is well established as a popular format for the elite men and women, and has been a key part of the history of the aQuellé Tour Durban,” said race director Alec Lenferna.
“It also complies with the requirements for the race to serve as a Cape Town Cycle Tour qualifier and fits in well with our plans to make optimal use of the full road closure on the M4 on the day of the race, as agreed with the city authorities” he added.
Lenferna stressed that the 2021 calendar, as the nation starts to emerge from the series of pandemic lockdowns, was highly unusual and the late November date for the aQuellé Tour Durban was part of a congested calendar that has forced events to think differently.
The 2021 aQuellé Tour Durban falls on the same weekend as the Double Century in the Western Cape, which will divide the elite national racers, but Lenferna says this will still allow the 2021 aQuellé Tour Durban to ensure there is a balance of offerings for riders of all abilities.
“The Tour Durban has a proud history as a great South African classic, and we have been able to preserve this with the 100km race distance for the elite races, despite the difficult conditions.
“At the same time we are placing a lot of emphasis on sharing the joy of being able to stage this major event as a chance to #CelebrateTogether as we start to emerge from the tough two years of Covid lockdowns.
The day’s races will start before 6am, giving the elite riders cool early morning conditions for their 101km race. The first start will comprise the Elite men, Under 23s and Junior men categories, with the second start for all the competitive veteran and masters riders, effectively starting all the over 30 male riders keen to race competitively in one race.
“The racing vets race is a new innovation and will see all riders grouped into one seeded race group regardless of their age thus allowing for the strongest riders to come to the fore and this group will be limited to 150 riders”, said Lenferna.
The elite women, U23 women and racing vets women will start just behind them in one group, with the junior women joining this race after the 11km start lap to give them a race distance of 90km as per the regulations.
Once the competitors in the three races have started their final respective 45km lap on the M4, the club and recreational riders will start the 135km race followed by the 90km riders and the social 45km riders.
“That means that we will start the three non-elite racers at around 8am, and we anticipate that everyone will have ample time to finish before we have to re-open the roads at 2pm,” said Lenferna.
“There is a lot of excitement in the clubs about the three 45km lap options,” explained Lenferna. “The 135km distance is a great challenge for many regular riders, and club peletons are being planned to get all the riders through that distance.
“The beauty about the three lap format is that anyone who wants to can change plans based on how they are feeling or the weather conditions on the day can do that.
“For us the important things is being able to use the occasion to say “we are back” after the frustrations of 2020. We want the elite riders to thrive in an environment that caters for all their needs, and then to spend the day celebrating the pleasure of being out on a bike together, riding our city and uniting in a show of solidarity and celebration,” he added.