Participants in The Herald VW Cycle Tour will have a chance to show their true mettle when they take on the new Ultimate Quest in Port Elizabeth and Addo from February 1 to 3.
The Ultimate Quest is designed to reveal the supreme cyclist overall across both the 80km Extreme mountain bike challenge on the Saturday and 106km Classic road race on the Sunday.
According to The Herald’s chief marketing officer Justin Peel, the seed of the idea grew from organisers’ vision to improve the offering and create a true weekend festival of cycling.
“In addition, we believe it’s a great opportunity that allows road and mountain bikers to compete on an even playing field.”
With new-look routes both on and off-road, Peel said it was the perfect moment to introduce the Ultimate Quest.
“Particularly on the mountain bike side, there’s been a complete overhaul of the routes.
“On the road route the addition of the five-kilometre hill and Slanghoogte climb will ensure that race strategies will have to be adjusted from previous years.”
He said the male and female winners of the Ultimate Quest would receive R5 000 each in addition to any prize money in the individual events.
Although many of the pro teams would probably compete for the new title, Peel said it was not created with them in mind.
“The primary purpose is to allow the avid cyclist who enjoys an endurance challenge the opportunity to become part of a small field of exclusive riders.”
He said participants should be advanced riders with above-average fitness levels and technical skills on the mountain bike.
“The double bill is not to be taken lightly, so we urge all who enter to be well prepared.
“Get out and begin hill training and fine-tune your recovery programme to ensure that you can tackle the road race with fresh legs.”
Peel said organisers believed the new initiative would add fresh impetus to the country’s second oldest national classic and help grow the event.
“We’d like to encourage more out of town riders to travel to our beautiful city.
“We hope the inclusion of the Ultimate Quest will spur on all serious cycling enthusiasts to take on a new challenge.”
For those not quite up to it, he said there would be a range of shorter distances for the whole family at Addo and Hobie Beach.
Enter the Ultimate Quest at www.heraldcycletour.co.za before January 21. Late entries will be accepted at registration at The Boardwalk Convention Centre on Friday, December 1.
For regular race updates, follow @heraldcycletour or like www.facebook.com/ TheHeraldCycleTour.
CAPTION: Top Port Elizabeth cyclists Andrea von Holdt (left) and Jade Muller, representing Merrell, will be challenging for honours in the Ultimate Quest at next year’s The Herald VW Cycle Tour. This new category takes into account riders’ combined performances in the 80km Extreme mountain bike race on the Saturday and the 106km Classic road event on the Sunday. Photo: Coetzee Gouws/fullstop