It’s time to sign up for 2020 edition of Herald Cycle Tour
herald cycle tour791 - LAUNCH Article Photo.jpg

ENTRIES have opened for the popular Herald Cycle Tour 2020 – by far the most scenic race in the Eastern Cape and one of the top classic cycle events in South Africa. 

Whether it is the fast-paced coastal scenes during the Road Race from Pollok Beach in Port Elizabeth or the mountain trails of Addo during the Mountain Bike Challenge – the country’s top professional riders, as well as leisure riders of all ages, will be treated to the spectacular natural beauty of the province. 

The Herald Cycle Tour will take place over two weekends - with the Mountain Bike Challenge on 16 February 2020 at the Addo Polo Club and the Road Race on 23 February in Port Elizabeth. 

The Herald Cycle Tour is an annual event in the professional cyclists’ calendar and is known by the country’s top riders as a challenging platform to compete in – which is well-organised and fun.  

Professional cyclist and coach Nolan Hoffmann, who was placed first in the Men’s 106km Classic Road Race in this year’s race, said he ranks the Herald Cycle Tour as one of the top five races in South Africa. 

“It’s a big one for me. From the start of my career the Herald Cycle Tour was always part of my big goals, and how we selected races before peaking for the Cape Town Cycle Tour. And racing in PE is like racing in Cape Town, I feel at home,” said Hoffman. 

Tiffany Keep raced in Port Elizabeth for the first-time in 2019, when she won the Women’s 106km Classic Road Race of the Herald Cycle Tour. 

“Port Elizabeth is a beautiful part of South Africa and one which I haven’t been able to travel to before. I really enjoyed the race. The route itself winds its way along the coast, offering some great views to participants. Not many races give you the opportunity to do this, so it really is quite a unique experience.” 

“It also has some short, punchy climbs which help to make the racing a bit more interesting. The event is well run and organised and one which I can definitely recommend to any South African cyclist,” said Keep. 

Yolande de Villiers, the winner in the Women’s 80km Extreme Mountain Bike Race this year, describes the Herald Cycle Tour as a fun-filled and action-packed event for the whole family. 

“I love the mountain bike route - it is a combination of single tracks, wooden bridges, sharp climbs and steep descents. It is one of the best organised events that cater for the whole family.  It is a festival of cycling with a fantastic vibe,” said De Villiers. 

The races are open to not only professional cyclists, but leisure riders of all ages and an event the entire family can participate in. The Road Race in Port Elizabeth is open to riders over 12 years, while the Mountain Bike Challenge in Addo will include a 5km Kiddies Ride and 50m Toddlers Dash. 

Early birds can again capitalise on entering before the end of November for a discounted rate, while all race entries will close on 28 January 2020.

Berna Ulay Walters
Hoffman does it by a split second
HCT Poste event finishline Photo 2019.jpg

DNS Sports sprinter Nolan Hoffman edged Ryan Harris by a split second to bag yet another 106km Herald Continental Cycle Tour victory at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand on Su n d ay. It took a couple of minutes for the winner to be announced as race officials decided the 2019 champion after Hoffman and Harris crossed the finish line neck-and-neck in two hours, 32 minutes and 14 s e co n d s .

Gustav Basson was third and credited with the same t i m e. Hoffman, 32, said the 2019 race was probably the hardest he had ever done. “If you were thinking of giving up then you had lost the race already,” the multiple former champion said. “I just had to put my head down and hope the guy in front of me was holding the wh e e l . “Fortunately, I managed to stay with Clint Hendricks because I know he is a strong rider in the crosswinds. “It worked out well.” Despite the win, the Capetonian said he was not 100% his best in terms of fitness, but it was just a matter of sharpening the pencil as all the work had been done. “I am happy with the way I was on the hills and the climbing,” Hoffman said. “That is a positive and it was a boost in the right direction for the upcoming races.” Reflecting on the race, Hoffman said: “It looked like it was going to rain in the beginning and then the mist just cleared and it was a sunny day. “About 20km into the race

there was no wind, nothing. Then all of a sudden it just came out of nowhere and it was blowing the guys to the side on the road. “PE never seems to disappoint – it can be rainy and then all of a sudden the sun is out and then the wind blows. “But that makes for really good cycling conditions and it makes the race exciting. “You always have to concen - trate on what you need to do. “If you are too far back and m i ss a breakaway, you can lose out. “I didn’t dare look back even once because when we came into the last kilometre, I

only saw 10 guys that were left in the group. That happened in a matter of 500m.” Tiffany Keep, 18, made a memorable debut by b e at i n g Nelson Mandela Bay’s Anriette Schoeman to take the women’s t i t l e. The KwaZulu-Natal rider

finished the race in 3:09:56, followed by Schoeman in 3:09:57. Third place went to Frances Janse van Rensburg, also in a time of 3:09:57. The Varsity College student has vowed to come back to defend her title in 2020. Asked what she had done right to win the race, Keep said: “I think I raced cleverly. “In the past, I used to sit in the front the whole way because I come from a mountain bike background and that is really the only tactic I know. “I think I applied a bit more of a tactical approach to this race today. “It was my first attempt at it.

and I am very happy with how it went. “I really didn’t know what to expect because I have never raced in this part of the country b e f o r e. “It was actually very nice for me to have a change of scenery and I really enjoyed racing along the coastline of PE with a good bunch of girls. “I am super stoked that my sprint paid off and I was able to cross the line first. “I’ll try my best to be back next year. I really enjoyed the race and I only have good things to say about this event. “I’ll definitely recommend it to everyone back home.”

Berna Walters
Spectators make the day for tour riders
Ladies Photo Finish 2019.jpg

One of SA’s premium road cycling races offered up another nail-biter as Nolan Hoffman claimed the 2019 Herald Continental Cycle Tour title in Nelson Mandela Bay on Sunday.

Despite the grey conditions, Hoffman, of Franschhoek, powered his way across the finish line in a three-way fight for the title, adding yet another wi n n e r ’s medal to his cabinet.

KwaZulu-Natal debutante Tiffany Keep, 18, was the first woman home. An elated Hoffman said: “PE never seems to disappoint. “Again, we had four seasons in one morning – I thought we were going to get rained on in the beginning and you couldn’t see more than 50m in front of you with the mist.

“But then it disappeared, the sun came out and towards the end the wind started. “I was so impressed to see the number of academy guys who were part of this race. “It ’s a chance for them to measure themselves up against the pro riders.” The race consisted of two distances, the 106km coastal classic and 55km pursuit. The field of almost 1,400 cyclists included many local and national entries, and a handful of overseas riders.

Spectators were out in full f o r ce. “The crowds were incredib l e, ” Hoffman said. “It ’s heartwarming to see them come out to support the riders. It’s a big motivator for us and pushes us to keep going.” Keep said she had heard only good things about the race before and enjoyed the s ce n e r y. “There are some good climbs, which I really enjoyed, some fast descents and flat sections, and to add to that you have the beautiful views to distract you from the suffering. “I will definitely recommend this race back home.” She described racing alongside the likes of Bay legend Anriette Schoeman as well as Yolande de Villiers and others as unreal, saying these were women she had looked up to as a junior cyclist.

The Herald and Weekend Post editor Nwabisa Makunga celebrated the successful hosting of the 34th Herald Cycle Tour. “We are grateful to the community of Nelson Mandela Bay as well as the cycling comm u n i t y, ” she said.

“To all our riders who came out, participated and enjoyed themselves, they are the real champions of this event.” Continental Tyre South Africa managing director Shaun Uys said the organising team had again outdone themselves. “Race organisation has been getting better year on year.

“The race village was filled with spectators and I can only see it getting better as the years co n t i n u e, ” Uys said.

Berna Walters
Du Toit cycles to maiden glory
The Herald Continental Cycle Tour MTB 80km Extreme Mens Winners 2019.jpg

Arno du Toit flew the Team DSV flag high in winning The Herald Continental Cycle Tour Mountain Bike Challenge at the Addo Polo Club on Sunday. Du Toit, racing in the absence of fellow DSV rider and defending champion Gert Heyns, finished in a time of two hours, 50 minutes and 29 seconds, as the first elite man h o m e.

He crossed the line ahead of Imbuko Giant rider Marco Joubert (2:50:30) and Nicol Carstens (2:55:33) in third. In the women’s race, Yolande de Villiers made it two wins in a row as she claimed another Herald Continental Cycle Tour Mountain Bike title, coming home in 3:04:02 – almost four minutes ahead of Sabine Spitz in second with a time of 3:07:40 and Anriette Schoeman in third in 3:19:32.

Speaking at the finish line, Du Toit said the win was the perfect result for him in what was his debut Herald Continental Cycle Tour event. “I’ve never raced here before. I have raced in the area, so I knew what to expect and my partner Gert Heyns helped me prepare mentally,” Du Toit said. “I also knew the Imbuko Giant guys had me outnumbered. They had three teammates here and it was clear from the start they were riding for him being a local boy. “He knew the trails and he had me under pressure on the single tracks too, so hats off to him on a good ride.” He said his competitors had made it hard for him in the beginning with a few attacks, but he managed to keep it steady through the Zuurberg Pass. “Halfway down the single track, Marco and I broke away. We had a nice big gap.

They could have made it a lot easier for Marco. “When Nicol and the other Giant riders backed off, I didn’t need to race that hard. He kept following my wheel, but if they had pushed harder from the back I would have had to ride harder in front. “So I could keep it steady and knew I had a good sprint, taking it to the line with co n f i d e n ce. ” Du Toit said he knew he had to try and cover every move made by his opponents. “With three riders on a flat route towards the end, if one rider had a gap, they could have forced me to do the work by myself, which happened. “But I was in the front by then, so I just had to cover all their moves and try to stay as fresh as possible to the end.”

Meanwhile, De Villiers said the route was quite flat with the climbs happening mainly in the first third of the race. “The guys in front made a bit of a gap and I was happy to go with them. Shortly thereafter, we lost Sabine. From there I just kept a steady pace and was happy to take the wi n , ” she said. “It ’s fantastic single track. The first section is open road, and then you climb Zuurberg Pass and from there it’s lots of single track over bridges, sharp turns, loose rocky climbs – ve r y beautiful.” Asked about her game plan, De Villiers said: “Due to the flattish nature of the course, I decided to go as hard as possible from the start. Luckily, I managed to get a gap over Sabine and managed to maintain that.”

Berna Walters
Cyclists lap up heat for MTB Race
The Herald Continental Cycle Tour MTB 80km Extreme Ladies Winners 2019.jpg

Not even the heat of the Addo sun was enough to deter riders as they tackled another successful The Herald Continental Cycle Tour Mountain Bike Challenge on Sunday.

More than 1,300 riders were in the starting lineup at the Addo Polo Club and hordes of fans were waiting at the finish. With temperatures hovering in the high 20s for most of the morning, riders nevertheless had few problems navigating the tough, technical course laid out around the Addo area.

The men’s 80km extreme race was won by Cycle Tour debutant Arno du Toit, while Yolande de Villiers made it two wins in as many years for the wo m e n ’s section. The Oudtshoorn resident said conditions in Addo mimicked that of her hometown and thus did not play a major role in her performance.

“I must say this event keeps getting better each year, from registration all the way to the set-up, the accommodation – everything was just perfect from a racer’s point of view, and I am certainly looking forward to returning next year.” Du Toit shared similar sentiments, saying he had a lot of fun out on the course, especially through the more challenging sections like the Zuurberg Pass . “I hope to be back next year, having more fun, and to defend my title.”

Continental Tyre events manager David van der Merwe said the event was well attended and even better in an organisational sense. “It might have been hot and dusty out there, but judging from the feedback we got, the riders enjoyed themselves.” He said he believed the race now had a place among some of the biggest MTB races in the co u n t r y.

The Herald and Weekend Post chief marketing officer Justin Peel said the 2019 field was the largest ever in the history of the race. “This race is not only about the elite racers, but from the 500m kiddies race, all the way up, what we are aiming for is to see a smile on their faces as they cross the finish line. “It’s not about the win or the time for everybody, but rather for the adventure and experience that comes along with it,” Peel said.

Berna Walters
Cycle Tour deadline coming up
_H2A1743.JPG

EXCITEMENT is mounting with just one week to go until the official closing date of the 34th annual The Herald Continental Cycle Tour. 

Cyclists of all ages and levels of fitness are encouraged to enter the Mountain Bike Race taking place on 17 February at the Addo Polo Club, followed by a weekend of road racing on 23 and 24 February in Port Elizabeth. 

Make a day out of the much-anticipated race events by bringing the entire family to the respective race villages, which promise to be a hive of activity and fun during the two epic cycling weekends

 

The Mountain Bike Race Village will showcase the Sundays River Valley’s rich country hospitality with a traditional farmer’s market. Expect great local food, plenty of entertainment and an opportunity for the city kids to go on tractor rides and horse rides. 

The Race Village at Pollok Beach, which will be up and running for the road races on 23 and 24 February, will offer a unique experience to cyclists, spectators and supporters. 

This year’s Race Village will again include the Cycle Tour Lounge, where the races can be enjoyed in style with VIP parking, appetizing lunch and refreshments, a dedicated bar and comfortable seating.  

Other race village attractions include children’s activation zones – with jumping castles, face painting and balloon art. The Pollok Beach Race Village will also have a variety of food for sale – including several popular food trucks, a beer garden and coffee station. Live entertainment from local artists and DJs will ensure a vibey atmosphere to enjoy before, during and after the races. 

Creating a unique experience in the race villages is a key ingredient for the continued success of the cycling extravaganza, said The Herald Chief Marketing Officer Justin Peel. 

“The race villages will once again offer great entertainment for children and adults alike. The phenomenal atmosphere created on race day is something to experience first-hand. So, whether you’re entering to be competitive or to simply soak up the fun atmosphere – there is something for every rider,” said Peel. 

Peel encouraged spectators and fans to come out in their numbers to support the cyclists. Several professional cyclists described the festive Nelson Mandela Bay atmosphere as nothing they have ever experienced at any other cycling event.  

Registered cyclists will be able to collect their race packs on the following dates:

MTB Race:  Friday 15 February from 09:00 – 19:00 at Pollok Beach, Summerstrand; Saturday 16 February from 09:00 – 13:00 at Pollok Beach, Summerstrand; and Saturday 16 February from 18:00 – 19:00 at Addo Polo Club, Addo.

Road Races: Friday 22 February from 09:00 – 19:00 and Saturday 23 February from 09:00 – 13:00 at Race Village, Pollok Beach, Port Elizabeth.

Race entries close at midnight on 27 January. For more information or to enter, visit The Herald Continental Cycle Tour’s website at www.heraldcycletour.co.za

Berna Walters