aQuellé Tour Durban road closures08/09/2022
Grobler and Yelland power to aQuellé Tour Durban MTB wins10/09/2022
In it’s new spring date, the aQuellé Tour Durban national classic cycle race returns to it’s traditional format this weekend, with elite and recreational cyclists eager to enjoy the luxury of full road closure as they ride in support of The Domino Foundation.
After two years moulded by pandemic restrictions that led to the road race using laps on the M4 freeway north of the city, the signature 106km road race on Sunday returns to much of it’s traditional format, with the M4 lap leading onto the Southern Freeway before the M7 climb through Queenburgh to Pinetown.
From there the race ends on a new sector down the M13 to the finish in Masabalala Yengwa Avenue outside the Moses Mabhida Stadium before riders return to the new race village at the Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World.
The new date has set the Durban classic up as the start of a jam-packed second half of the national elite road racing calendar, and has attracted many of the sports biggest teams to the city for the showdown.
Nolan Hoffman, who has been a major player in the elite aQuellé Tour Durban peleton since his debut in 2004, now heads up the Aluwani Pro Cycling team, with stalwart Reynard Butler in their ranks.
After his win at the Montecasino Classic, Hoffman, who feels that Durban is a second home after bedding down much of his pro career with Durban-based teams, is eager to continue his winning ways, and is excited to test the team against the traditional Durban route challenges.
The elite men’s race will be tight, with Clint Hendricks leading his group of emerging elite riders in Team ENZA, for whom Hoffman rode to his fourth victory in 2021.
When the front group starts the critical climb up the M7 that often shortlists the potential winners, expect key players from the new Team Siata to be in the mix and keen to assert themselves.
The women’s race will be intriguing as the elite teams return to competitive racing after the winter break, many of them with changes to their personnel.
Expect Durban pro S’annara Grove to use her countless hours training on the route to good effect, up against a strong women’s peleton that will include Cherise Willeit and her Sandton City Cycle Nation team mate Joanna van de Winkle, keen to start the second half of the year by defending the title the team won in 2021.
While the blue ribband 106km race enjoys much of the limelight, the bulk of the race entry has been for the popular coastal 45km and 90km rides up the M4 to Desainagar Circle outside Mdloti and back to the city.
Popular elite para-triathlete Mhlengi Gwala is amongst the field entered for the 90km race.
On Saturday the second edition of the aQuellé Tour Durban MTB race powered by Cycle Lab will offer local mountain bikers a choice of 35km or 20km routes on sugar cane roads and single track north of Cornubia Mall.
There is a big entry of school-going MTB enthusiasts and after the impact they made last year, schools like Hillcrest Primary School will be competing for a new prize from race sponsors aQuellé that takes into account results and the number of pupils taking in the races over the entire weekend.
The event is unique in that it is owned and serves as an important fund-raiser for The Domino Foundation that serves many communities north of the city. They have been stretched in their relief efforts since the KZN floods and cyclists are looking forward to making a contribution to the foundation through their entry fees.
The race has always opened itself to supporting a myriad of charities, and many riders take part to champion their own causes.
The aQuellé Tour Durban has also struck up a formal relationship with the South African Bone Marrow Registry, which is keen to use the event to raise the profile of the work it does and encourage riders to ride in their colours to help raise funds.
Well known Durban triathlete Donovan van Gelder will be riding in the colours of the SA Bone Marrow Registry.
The Cows, a feisty group of keen cyclists supporting the CHOC Childhood Cancer Association of SA, will be on duty as race sweeps and manning water points on the route.
The aQuellé Tour Durban MTB races powered by CycleLab get under way outside Cornubia Mall at 8am on Saturday, while the first elite batch sets off at the start of the aQuellé Tour Durban road races at 6am on Sunday morning.