Pietermaritzburg – The rural town of Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg will play host to the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) Road Cycling Championships from 9 to 14 February, the first time that South Africa has hosted the continental road cycling showcase event.
The three days of time trial and three days of road racing will follow immediately after the South African Road Championships in Mbombela, providing a key fortnight opportunity for elite road cyclists to test themselves and earn crucial Olympic qualifying points for their federation in the process.
Interest in the event has been strong, with 26 African nations entered for the event.
The time trial and road races will use the tried and tested courses used for the UWCT Final in 2012, using 24km and 42km laps between Wartburg and Harburg to stage the elite, Under 23 and junior races for men and women.
The UWCT Final in 2012 drew positive feedback from the riders, who appreciated the tough but fair courses set out against a backdrop of full road closure.
The event also cements the regions positioning as a key global cycling hub, with Pietermaritzburg established as Africa's "Bike City."
Event director Alec Lenferna said the African Road Championships was the biggest road cycling event that South Africa has ever hosted, and said Cycling South Africa had earned the respect of the continental and international governing bodies through hosting nine major road, BMX, track and MTB events since the Worlds View Challenge races in 2008.
He added that the Wartburg venue ticked a lot of boxes by virtue of the experience gained at the UWCT Final and the Msundusi Road Challenge.
"The local community is very accommodating and welcoming," said Lenferna. "Everyone from the marshalls to the Traffic Police and the city officials now fully understand the road cycling events, which will make it logistically easier to organise."
The event has been arranged outside of sugar-cane cutting season to ensure there is no adverse effect on farmers needing to use the road, and to reduce the amount of road cleaning that will need to be done to remove sugar cane from the roads.
"We have also set the races between 9am and 1pm so that we don't affect local residents who need to use the roads for daily requirements like taking and fetching children from local schools," said Lenferna.
"After hosting the MTB World Champs and MTB Marathon World Champs, hosting these events shows that Cycling South Africa is not stagnating," he added.
Photo: The road between Wartburg and Harburg outside Pietermaritzburg will play host to the time trial and road racing at the Confederation of African Cycling Road Championships from 9 to 14 February, the first time that South Africa has hosted the continental title decider © Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media