Action-packed 2018 for SA riders

Cycling South Africa this week confirmed all the calendar dates and provinces that will be hosting the South African National Championship events for 2018. For a list of all CSA events, as well as all CSA-sanctioned stage and one-day races go to the www.OnYourBike.bike calendar page.

What should be the highlight of the SA racing calendar, the SA National Road Championships, will be hosted by Western Cape Cycling with the support of Eden Cycling, and will take place in Oudtshoorn from February 6-11.

The venue offers some spectacular riding and it seems likely the route will be worthy of the national championships, but once again questions need to be asked as the venue is relatively far from the major centres which is sure to have an effect on both competitor numbers and spectators, which in turn is unlikely to be as attractive to sponsors.

With the federation in dire financial straits, it may make more sense to hold the premier event near major centres in an effort to attract numbers and sponsors.

The TransCape has been granted UCI status for 2018. The 614km mountain bike race starts in Knysna on February 4 and finishes at La Couronne Wine Farm in Franschhoek seven days later. Photo: Jacques Marais

The first two days are for the time trial, which takes place on a 14.6-kilometre circuit. Road races begin on day three, and cover distances of 52.8km to 154.8km (depending on category).

The main attraction, the elite, U23 and junior men and women’s races will take place on the Saturday and not on the last day of the event as in previous years. This is due to the African Continental Championships that begin in Rwanda on February 13 and run until the 18th.

The SA MTB XCO Championships for all categories takes place in Bloemfontein, Free State, this year at the Happy Valley Conservancy on July 21. The downhill and marathon championships dates are yet to be confirmed.

BMX competitors take to the track in KwaZulu-Natal on October 7 for their National Championships. The venue is to be determined.

Closing out the year, the Track cyclists will compete for National Championships titles on December 11 to 16. The SA National Omnium Championships are on Day 1, followed by the SA National Track Championships , all in Bellville in the Western Cape.

There are numerous other UCI-rated events taking place throughout the course of the year, which are not part of the National Championships.

The MTB XCO Cup Series: There will be four mountain bike cross-country events around the country which form part of the SA MTB XCO Cup Series, each featuring a UCI category 1 rating for elite and junior men and women. Juniors will also be able to earn valuable UCI points as two of the four instalments of the series form part of the UCI Junior World XCO Series. The series kicks off on February 3, with round two at Thaba Trails in Gauteng on March 31, round three is at Cascades MTB Park in KwaZulu-Natal, while the fourth and final round is at Mankele Bike Park in Mpumalanga.

Attakwas Extreme: Part of the UCI MTB Marathon Series, the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme allows riders to qualify for UCI MTB Marathon World Championships, whether they are selected or not. The top 25% of finishers qualify to participate in the World Champs. This event carries a UCI Marathon Class 3 rating and has been the season starter for a few years now, and will get the blood pumping in Oudtshoorn on January 20.

TransCape: The seven-day TransCape will take riders on a mountain biking journey over 614km taking intrepid adventurers from the picturesque Garden Route town of Knysna to Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands. The TransCape is rated UCI Class S2 Stage Race and takes place from February 4-10.

Tankwa Trek: Taking place in Ceres, the three-day Momentum Health Tankwa Trek is rated UCI Class S1 Stage Race and is held from February 9-11. Winding through the beautiful Bokkeveld and Witzenburg areas, this race covers a total distance of 265km.

UCI MTB World Cup #1: Heading to South African shores for the opening round of the UCI World Cup Series, cross-country fans will watch the world’s best battle it out in Stellenbosch. Only Elite and U23 riders are eligible to enter, and entry information can be obtained by contacting Dellah Paul by email at dellah@cyclingsa.com. Be sure to watch the action on March 10.

Cape Epic: The eight-day Absa Cape Epic carries a UCI SHC Stage Race rating. From the start to the magnificence of the Grand Finale at Val de Vie Estate, the 2018 Absa Cape Epic route is balanced and bold and untamed. The total distance of 658km will be covered by competitors from March 18-25.

100 Cycle Challenge: Starting and ending at Germiston Lake in Gauteng on Sunday, May 6, the 100 Cycle Challenge has been granted UCI Category 1.2 status for Elite and U23 Men and Women. The 100 Cycle Challenge is open to anybody over the age of 15, irrespective of whether you are a high-flying professional or a dedicated amateur or an ardent weekend cyclist.

Cape Pioneer Trek: This UCI Class S2 Stage Race takes place from October 14-20 in Oudtshoorn. From the arid desertscapes of the Groot Karoo and the aboriginal forests of the Garden Route, the Cape Pioneer has it all. Competitors race a distance of 496km over seven days.

94.7 Cycle Challenge: The world’s second-largest timed cycle race in Johannesburg carries a UCI 1.1 rating for Elite Women. Participants race over 94km through the streets of Johannesburg. The 2018 edition takes place on November 18.