Tour of South Africa launches inaugural 2011 route

The 2011 Tour of South Africa (ToSA) race routes have been unveiled today at the official launch of the UCI approved 2.2 category, 8 day, 7 stage road race which will take place in February next year. The Tour of South Africa will start in Gauteng and end in the winelands of Stellenbosch.  In conjunction with the route reveal came the news of already confirmed international and local teams, race director and working team introductions.  Sponsor announcement will be made closer to the time.

The intention of the chosen route is to showcase the heritage and beauty of our country, enabling international guests and local travellers to continue to feel and experience the warmth of South Africa and its people after the success of the FIFA World Cup 2010™.

The Tour of South Africa has been carefully timed to follow on from the Tour Down Under in Australia and before the major events in Europe.  With the exceptional hospitality that has been planned for the teams, and the great weather prevalent in South Africa in February, will make it a real “must go to event” on the Global Cycling Calendar.

The event is fully sanctioned by the UCI and will be operated under their auspices and governing regulations. It is also sanctioned and supported by Cycling South Africa, the Department of Sport and Recreation and SASCOC.

The inaugural Tour of South Africa will start on Saturday, 19th February 2011 in Pretoria and end on Saturday, 26th February in Stellenbosch.  A brief look at the areas that the 2011 route will take is as follows:

Stage 1 – Saturday 19 February: 167km

The first race day will start in Menlyn and take past the Union Buildings before heading north and turning west behind the Magaliesberg ridges west of Pretoria. The race travels west along many of the new estates in this area before going across the bridge and through the tunnel at Hartebeespoort Dam. From there we head towards the Cradle of Humankind passing Maropeng. We spend some time in the Cradle area before heading to the Fourways area or the finish.

Stage 2 – Sunday 20 February: 156km

The stage will start by doing a big loop via Rodepoort, Soweto, Soccer City, and Johannesburg CBD back to Sandton where the race will join a smaller 23km local loop in the Sandton/Randburg area.  This loop will be repeated 3 times before the finish.

Transfer: After stage 2 all the riders transfer via air to Port Elizabeth. The convoy travels by car. A rest day (Monday) awaits all staff and riders after the first two stages.

Stage 3 – Tuesday 22 February: 173km

Starting at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, stage 3 heads towards the Addo Elephant National Park where one is sure to catch a few glimpses of wildlife (it is home to the Big Seven). From there the race returns to Port Elizabeth, where the route takes an interesting turn, with a city circuit, before finishing in Summerstrand on the beach front.

Transfer: We transfer to the start of stage 4.

Stage 4 – Wednesday 23 February: 153km

Stage 4 starts on the famous Bloukrans Bridge where many bungi jump enthusiasts are sure to be found. We head from there to Natures Valley and out on the climb towards the N2. Then on to Plettenberg Bay where we include a local loop before another climb out and back on the N2 passing through Knysna. At Wilderness the race leaves the N2 and heads over 3 passes of narrow twisty roads before finishing in George.

Stage 5 – Thursday 24 February: 210km

The stage starts in Oudtshoorn and heads on to the famous Route 62 passing Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Barrydale and Suurbraak before finishing in Swellendam. This should be a day for the sprinters.

Stage 6 – Friday 25 February: 180km

The penultimate stage starts in Hermanus and winds its way through Gordens Bay over Sir Lowry’s Pass into Grabouw. Another small pass awaits cyclists just outside Grabouw before turning left at the Threewaterskloof Dam and up Franschhoek pass. A speedy descent follows. After passing through Franschhoek the race will head over Helshoogte Pass onto the finish in Stellenbosch.

Stage 7 – Saturday 26 February : 103km

The final stage of the tour starts and finishes in Stellenbosch and comprises of a number of loops including some of the city centre much like the traditional last stage of the Tour de France. This promises to be a festive atmosphere as cyclists will be passing the finish many times, creating much excitement and lots of action.

“The possibility of a Tour of South Africa has been a topic of discussion amongst  cyclists and cycling enthusiasts for many years and something the professionals have wanted to see come to fruition –  now it will, thanks to the commitment of our partner Primedia Sport” says Barry Mocke, CEO Cycling South Africa.

“With the commitment and vision of Cycling South Africa and the partnership between  us and Primedia Sport, this vision and much talked about cycling event is set to become South Africa’s own Tour de France”.

“In cycling we currently have the Tour de France, Tour of California, Tour Down Under, each representing a continent, with its different cycling history and culture. A few days ago an agreement was signed with the Chinese authorities and next season we will have the Tour of Beijing in our UCI World Tour. In other words, Asia will join our top series as the fourth continent. So I couldn’t be happier today, at the occasion of this presentation – that there is a new major African race with growing ambition which means our sport will really become universal soon.” says Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI.

The time of year the Tour of South Africa takes place is ideal for cyclists to sharpen their form and get the final quality miles in before the Spring Classics start in earnest in Europe.

Cycling South Africa’s 2020 Vision, launched earlier this year, clearly laid out its plan to host a tour of this nature amongst a number of other interesting and much needed programmes. “An important aspect of our strategy is developing professional riding in South Africa and creating a spectator focussed event that also allows for the promotion of South Africa. The Tour of South Africa could therefore be one of the biggest sporting events and achievements of the 2011 season,” says Barry Mocke, CEO, Cycling South Africa.

“The partnership between Cycling South Africa and Primedia Sport harnesses the level of expertise that both parties can deliver.  The combined knowledge, business acumen, enthusiasm and relationships between the companies can only benefit the project and further entice commercial success” says Franco Barocas, Managing Director of PrimeRights, the Primedia Sport Company managing this project.

The breakdown of team categories is as follows:

20 Teams consisting of 6 riders each

13 of which are international (Pro, Continental and or National)

2 Invitational teams,

5 local teams

We are delighted to be able to confirm that not only do we have our national heroes, Team MTN Qhubeka and Team Medscheme racing, but we can also confirm that the Professional Continental teams will include Pegasus Sport (Australia), Verandas Willems Accent (Belgium); Continental Internationals will include Rapha Condor Sharp (Britain) and Burgos Monumental (Spain) and we will have the Russian National Team and the UCI African Mixed Team.  Nic White will also be captaining a Cycling South Africa Academy Initiative in the Tour.

A further 14 teams have already requested an invitation to the race and we are expecting many more. The final places will be decided at a later stage.

Intense and lengthy site reconnaissance and meetings engaging with local authorities and communities have been fruitful.  “The support from local councils and municipalities is integral to the success of the event and I’m sure the regions are looking forward to welcoming the cycling stars and fans next February,” says Barry Mocke, CEO Cycling South Africa.  “The excitement amongst locals to get involved and lend a helping hand has been overwhelming.  We know that the volunteers along with the ToSA team will ensure that cyclists are welcomed, looked after and safe.”

The core ToSA team will be made up of the best-of-the-best local and international personnel as follows:

  • Alec Lenferna, Race Director – Alec has local and international (UCI) experience in all cycling disciplines
  • Barry Austin, Sporting Director – an ex-pro cyclist and current national Team and High Performance Manager for Cycling South Africa
  • Phil Liggett, International Commissaire and “The Voice of Cycling”. Phil will work alongside local talent, Gerald de Kock, Andrew McLean and Max Cluer
  • Television production company Big Shot Media will produce footage and sound bytes
  • Primedia – is a leading South African media group whose vision is to become a world class media company
  • Cycling South Africa – the progressive and responsible sports federation
  • And lastly, Matchworld, the most awarded activation agency n the country over the last three years, will manage the activation, event set up and coordination of the Tour as well as all marketing and PR.

“We will all be paying close attention to this race, and knowing the people involved in the organisation, I’m very sure that the quality of the event will be excellent. I am looking forward to the future where it will have a place among the greatest races of the world.  I also think it is important to thank all those who have participated in this wonderful project, and wish all the best to the newborn Tour of South Africa. It is a milestone in our vision of a modern and worldwide developed cycling plan” concludes Pat McQuaid.