Durban — Thousands of road cyclists and mountain bikers that will converge on Durban this weekend for the 26th Tour Durban, buoyed by the news that all the roads for the three races have been declared clear following the devastating storm that battered the region over the Easter weekend.
Race route director Andrew van Rensberg wrapped up his pre-race route recce with the Ethekwini Metro team on Thursday and confirmed that all the problems with landslides, sand and stones on the road and standing water had been addressed.
"The clean-up is complete," said a relieved Van Rensberg. "The co-operation we enjoy from the City of Durban is remarkable and a major reason for the ongoing success of this race under the total closure of the roads."
He added that good work had been done by the roads department in addressing potholes in the road. "We asked riders last year to identify places where potholes were an issue, and it is pleasing to see that many of these have been properly repaired," said Van Rensberg. "I know this is something that all the riders will appreciate," he added.
Van Rensberg confirmed the standard full road closure plans would be enforced as they were last year, and vowed to ensure that each sector would be re-opened to normal traffic as soon as every last rider had passed through that sector.
"The patience and tolerance of the local residents is fantastic," he added. "They understand that this is a red-letter day for the city of Durban, and it attracts a lot of visitors to the region, which in turn benefits a lot of business economically."
He stressed that safety was the top priority of their management team, and urged road users to follow the instructions of the RTI and Metro staff manning the intersections.
Safety of cyclists on the road will be top-of-mind at a special pre-race ride being organised by the Pedal Power Association to highlight the threats to cyclists riding on South African roads.
Last weekend a crash in Centurion claimed the lives of an experienced road cyclists and injured a number of his training colleagues.
The relaxed 25km ride is being seen as a statement demanding safety of every cyclist using the roads, and will leave Cycle Lab Cornubia at 6am on Saturday morning. There is no entry fee and the hosts at Cycle Lab are offering free coffee to all riders.
"We will be riding across Umhlanga Boulevard, down Umhlanga Rocks Drive, through La Lucia and then back up through Umhlanga to Cornubia.
"It will be an escorted by the Metro Police and safety cars too," Cycle Lab Cornubia General Manager Richard Derman said.
"With all these awareness rides we are trying to grow the Wider of the Rider campaign, encouraging drivers to stay 1,5m from the rider.
"The event will be taking place on busy roads which will help in us sending out the correct message."
The group is also organising a silent protest outside the Verulam court on Monday, April 29, the day after the race, as a plea for justice after the death of cyclist Craig Diedericks earlier this year.
Diedericks was one of seven Cycle Specialists Cycling Club riders out cycling along the M4 Ruth First Highway on Sunday morning, 10 January, when a taxi hit into three of the riders just before the M27 Umdloti off-ramp, killing Diedericks and injuring two other riders. The driver is facing culpable homicide charges.
The Tour Durban, presented by Bridge Fund Managers, takes place on Sunday 28 April 2019. More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za