With the Indian Ocean and sand dunes as backdrop, the Maitlands climb on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth presents compelling evidence that The Herald VW Cycle Tour is one of the most scenic road races in the country.
As one of two challenging hill climb primes – the other is at Theescombe –this spectacular vantage point is the perfect spot for spectators to enjoy the 105km national classic on Sunday, February 6.
“This climb often determines the outcome of the race,” said race director Shane Bradfield. “It comes approximately halfway through and provides the last opportunity for climbers to get away.”
Crowds traditionally gather along this stretch to cheer the leaders and assist stragglers.
The watering point at the top is one of six along the route and the Powerade Mini Gig Rig will be on site to add to the festive vibe.
Sardinia Bay Road in the general vicinity of the The Old Cash Store is also recommended as a viewing point.
“There’s a lovely countrified atmosphere,” said Bradfield. “People sit along the roadside in their deckchairs and cook breakfast on skottelbraais while watching the race go by.”
The two sprint primes are in front of Altona Primary School on Altona Road in Greenbushes and on Buffelsfontein Road, near Tony’s Appliances & Beds.
According to Bradfield, the sprint on Buffelsfontein is an especially impressive sight. “You can see the bunch hurtling towards you from more than a kilometre away.”
Bradfield said the start/finish area at Hobie Beach across the road from The Boardwalk Casino & Entertainment World is also a superb vantage point with its carnival-like atmosphere.
“For the last three years, the race has ended in a mass bunch sprint with riders approaching Tour de France-style – it’s really something to experience.”
The feature race kicks off at 6am with the 80km Schools’ and Open Challenge following an hour later. The 40km Schools’ and Family Challenge starts at 9am.
For more information, visit www.heraldcycletour.co.za.
Team MTN-Qhubeka limbering up before The Herald VW Cycle Tour national classic in Port Elizabeth. Photo: Full Stop Communications
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