April 17, 2018
Challenging route awaits Tour de Limpopo pro teams
Less than 12 months ago, the idea of holding a high status cycling race in the Limpopo province was a tourism concept of Limpopo Tourism Agency, but in a very short space of time, they – in partnership with Cycling South Africa – have set the ‘stage’ for an acclaimed four-day tour which is tipped to showcase the best of what the Limpopo province has to offer.
From concept to reality, the Tour de Limpopo has finalised the routes for the UCI accredited 2.2 stage race, and it will be part of the 2018 UCI Africa Tour. When studying the route, it is apparent that the winners each day and at the end of the tour will be worthy champions having given blood, sweat and tears along the challenging course totalling 416.7 kilometres with an elevation gain of 6896 metres!
The prize categories are made up of General Classification (overall leader), King of the Mountains, Sprinter, best young rider, most aggressive rider and overall team classification. Each individual category jersey will be worn by the winning rider during the next day’s race.
The event will start in Polokwane at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Monday 23 April for the first day as they embark on a 96.6km stage. They will climb 446m in ascent and summit at 1700m above sea level and will descend the scenic Magoebaskloof Pass en route to Tzaneen along the R71. The stage has one hotspot for points accumulation for the Sprinters at 26.6km, with a second points accumulation at the finish. Total elevation gain for this stage is 1266m, no small feat! For the mountain goats, a King of the Mountain hotspot at 56.6km will contribute towards the overall King of the Mountain jersey points. Riders will rest in Tzaneen before tackling the next stage.
Stage two – the “Queen Stage” – shows no mercy. Starting in Tzaneen with a distance of 175km and 2735m elevation gain, it’s going to be a tough day in the saddle. The harsh mountain climbs up the Magoebaskloof Pass early in the day will have teams sweating it out at an altitude gain of 867m within the first 45km. Teams will race along the R71 until the University of Limpopo, where they will turn away from Polokwane toward the R81 passing through Marobala, Moketsi and Modjadjiskloof before returning to Tzaneen. The undulating route is spiked with short and sharp climbs thereafter that will acknowledge those in the hunt for the King of the Mountain jersey with three hotspots at 26.6km, 40.5km and 153km, while Sprinters have the opportunity of gaining points at one hotspot positioned at 14.5km. A cultural evening to award the prize winners at the end of a long and hard day will be a welcome relief in Tzaneen.
Teamwork will be in play on stage three as teams tackle the Team Time Trial, an exciting dynamic to this year’s Tour. The revised circular route covers a distance of 28.6km. With the fastest four riders to count when crossing the line, team members supporting those at the top-end of the race will have their work cut out for them to protect their leaders’ positions, while the remaining teams may upset the applecart by posting challenging times in this exciting discipline of racing.
The final stage takes riders from Tzaneen back to Polokwane along a 96.9km distance to finish at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, where it all started. However, there will be no plain sailing as the sprinters stake a last points’ claim at the hotspot at 14.5km followed by the majestic Magoebaskloof Pass that will get hearts racing – the King of the Mountain hotspot is positioned at 25.5km! From there, the undulating route takes riders back to the finish.
The province of Limpopo and participating towns are ready to welcome you, whether you’re a competing cyclist, support crew, or families and friends. Every evening, riders and support teams will have a joint event dinner for the day’s prize giving with cultural activities and other entertainment synonymous with the province’s cultural flair with a theme embracing the rich cultural diversity of Limpopo. Come out and watch top rated cyclists as they tackle the inaugural Tour de Limpopo!