Words & Photo: Dave Macleod
As the flow of entries for the 2014 aQuellé Tour Durban turned into a flood ahead of the closing of normal entries at midnight on Tuesday 22nd April, the event’s three races on Monday 28 April look set continue their meteoric growth.
Almost 24 hours before the closing of normal entries the race entry was heading towards the total participation levels experienced last year, which also enjoyed significant growth year-on-year from 2012.
Organisers of the races confirmed that entry levels were "substantially larger than they were this time last year."
The race, which celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, started as a KwaZulu-Natal equivalent of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour but, after a promising start, numbers started to drop when the race changed hands during the late 1990s.
The race was however resurrected by the enthusiastic cyclists in Club Cappuccino and in less than three years the race entry started to swell appreciably thanks to a return to the popular route for the 105km road race and the introduction of the cyclo-cross race for the mountain biking enthusiasts.
The fun 45km ride, the third of the Tour Durban’s three features, from the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium to Mdloti and back offers popular sea views along the M4 highway and road cycling that is comfortably manageable for social riders.
The aQuellé Tour Durban is now also an official qualifying event for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour, which has also contributed to the snowballing participation numbers of late.
The names of defending champion Nolan Hoffman (Team Abantu) and his rival in recent years Herman Fouche (Team Bonitas) both feature prominently on the entry list that was edging ever closer to the 4000-rider mark on the day that normal entries close.
Last year eThekwini's mayor, Councillor James Nxumalo, rode the 45km race, riding one of the city cycling prototype bicycles in support of the municipality’s plans to make the city more cycle-friendly.
The races will once again enjoy full road closure, with the race committee assuring local residents that roads will be re-opened as soon as the last cyclists have cleared that section of the race route and the race safety officer and Durban Metro Police officers are satisfied that the road can be safely re-opened to vehicular traffic.
Durban looks set to enjoy ideal Autumn weather conditions for three races that make up the aQuellé Tour Durban, with cool partly cloudy weather on the morning of Monday 28 April, giving way to clear skies in the afternoon and moderate temperatures.
Normal entries for the aQuellé Tour Durban close at midnight on Tuesday 22 April, after which late entries will be taken at a R100 penalty.
Please note the following road closures will be in force on race day:
Masabalala Yengwa (NMR Avenue) 05h30 - 14h30
Margaret Mncadi Avenue 05h30 - 08h00
M4 South 05h30 - 08h30
M7 Edwin Swales & M19 to Pinetown 06h00 - 09h30
M19 Pinetown to Umgeni Road 06h15 - 10h00
Inanda Road (Springfield Park) 06h30 - 10h15
Riverside Road 06h30 - 10h30
M4 North both sides 05h30 - 14h30
The aQuellé Tour Durban road races takes place on Monday 28 April 2014. More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za