Any 40th celebrations of the Cape Town Cycle Tour were blown away on Sunday morning. The huge road event was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions and the possibility of protest action.
As gale force winds were predicted for most of the route, especially in the southernmost sections, organisers of the world’s largest timed race announced on Twitter that riders shouldn’t even bother approaching the start.
Earlier on Sunday morning the route was first shortened early on Sunday morning to 78 kilometres due to damage to roads in certain sections along the route, as well as expected protest action later in the day.
Some groups of cyclists had started the event, but were advised to turn back before the end of the M3 motorway.
Recently crowned national road champion Heidi Dalton was one of many elite athletes left in the lurch by the cancellation. ‘Disappointed not to be able to race today , but definitely the right decision made by the race organisation.
And 2008 Olympian and former national champion Cherise Willelt (neé Stander) said: ‘We were ready 😀😀😀 right choice made by race organisers, but couldn’t have been easy.’
South African Rio 2016 Paralympian Justine Asher was looking forward to her first time at the cycle tour and had this to say afterwards:
‘Feeling so disappointed…😢 on the start 10 min before time to go and the Cape Cycle Tour was cancelled due to extreme conditions. 😔 Safety first… so next year …. #capetowncycletour
Here’s the official statement from tour organisers:
It is with great regret that at 06h38 this morning, we were forced to make the difficult decision to stop the 40th edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
This morning presented a number of challenges, not least of which were wind speeds considerably higher than predicted yesterday. This, combined with a large fire that broke out in Hout Bay in the early hours of this morning, and the added risk of protest action en route, were all contributing factors to the decision made in our Joint Operation Centre (JOC) by the VOC Commander to stop the event.
Our priority first and foremost will always be the safety of all our participants and the risk of injury and potential fatality at the start, at the finish and on Chapman’s Peak warranted this extremely difficult decision. Furthermore, we only made the decision after endeavouring to mitigate all risks to keep the event open.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust wishes to extend its immense gratitude and thanks to the City of Cape Town and all those services involved at our JOC in Tygerberg. This includes Disaster Management Services, the Events Office of the City of Cape Town, Fire and Safety, Traffic Authorities and Metro Police as well as our medical services, Mediclinic, the Provincial EMS and South African Police Services. These relationships have been developed over many years and it is in times of crisis that the measure of these relationships are truly tested. I would particularly like to single out the Executive Director of Safety and Security, Mr Richard Bosman, as well as the Executive Mayor’s office for the tremendous support under these trying circumstances.
To all our sponsors, who have backed our decision 100%, our eternal gratitude for your understanding and support. Lastly, to the participants who have invested time, effort and resources in getting to the start line, our heartfelt thanks – ultimately this decision was made in the interests of your safety. To the Rotary Clubs and volunteers who have been standing on the route in difficult conditions, we appreciate your tireless effort and sacrifice.
We are humbled by the outpouring of offers to assist and donate food, product and resources to those in need as a result of us stopping this Cycle Tour. We are in the process of co-ordinating efforts to ensure that goods reach those in need in the fire-affected areas in Hout Bay. We encourage the public wishing to donate to please contact Thula Thula in Hout Bay to donate non-perishable goods. The Mayor of Hout Bay has opened the Hout Bay Sports Centre in readiness to receive perishable goods for immediate distribution into the community.