A new and exciting cycle tour has arrived on South African soil as the landlocked province of Limpopo, on the far northern border of South Africa, prepares for their first experience with a UCI AfricaTour cycle race. Limpopo Tourism Agency, in collaboration with Cycling South Africa, has launched the four-day Tour de Limpopo from 23-26 April to showcase the diversity of the Limpopo province as a premier cycling destination.
While the event is not the first cycling race to be held in the province – which is known for its incredible roads and mountain passes as well as scenic mountain bike terrain – it is the first cycling event of this magnitude with many different nationalities expected to descend on Polokwane and Tzaneen towards the end of April.
Limpopo Tourism Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Sonto Ndlovu, says, “This is an opportunity for the province to showcase some of its major attractions to the cyclists, spectators, and their respective management teams and families. This was an opportunity we could not let pass us by as we have a responsibility to market our province as a tourist destination, particularly adventure tourism, given our magnificent landscape and topography.”
It is apparent how the positive energy and drive derived from the announcement of the event has brought excitement to the Tourism team, as well as local municipalities and small businesses. “This is the ultimate destination marketing opportunity we’ve been waiting for,” she said.
The fully-catered UCI 2.2 stage race (for Elite cyclists) and the Veterans Tour, which follows the same routes as the Elite race, begins in the capital city of Polokwane on 23 April and heads east to the town of Tzaneen, where riders will stay for three nights before heading back to Polokwane on 26 April to finish the Tour at the Peter Mokabe Stadium.
“The Tour de Limpopo will give us the opportunity to showcase the beauty of Magoebaskloof, all the way to Tzaneen including Moria Zion City, Modjadjiskloof, the Sunland Baobab, Debengeni Falls, Modjadji Royal Kraal, and Modjadji Cycad Forest. I think television spectators will be very pleasantly surprised to see the most beautiful attractions in this part of the country when watching the race.”
In speaking about the unique concept of the tourism aspect linked to the Tour, whereby participants experience the culture of the towns they pass through each evening during the prize giving presentation, Ms Ndlovu mentioned how the importance of an event like this also positively impacts the small businesses along the route.
“We are aware that participants become very good ambassadors after visiting a unique destination, and they are likely to recommend the destination to their friends and families for future travel through word of mouth. We also know that most of these cyclists and their team members will come back to visit our province at some point,” she said.
The Tour de Limpopo aims to set a new precedent in stage racing, one that will develop and leave a legacy of continued and sustained cycling development, investment into community SMMEs as service providers to the event, and to showcase Limpopo Province as a premier Adventure Tourism destination with so much to enjoy.
“Whilst our involvement is largely on the marketing side, there are benefits that will be gained from a development side,” said Ms Ndlovu. “We hope that this will inspire the younger generation to take a keen interest in cycling and even go to professional level one day. An event of this magnitude will be utilised to grow and develop the sport and the business of cycling in the province, with skills transfer programmes that will contribute to the growth of the cycling industry and the concomitant value chain in the province.”