A new chapter in the history of South Africa’s oldest and toughest stage race, the Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique, is about to unfold with the addition of a new three-day road tour through Mpumalanga from July 17.
The traditional 154km one-day classic will still take place from Nelspruit (Mbombela) to White River, Sabie and back on July 18, but the country’s top road teams will now push themselves in the 299km tour.
According to organiser Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events, the new CSA-sanctioned tour will be an honest and exciting test of SA’s best.
“It’s the only event in which these riders will really be tested according to the standards set by Europe’s leading tours.
“There will be nowhere to hide and the strongest rider will win the tour, full stop.”
Unlike the classic European Alpine stage races however, De Villiers said the Jock would present a continuous climbing challenge, with a total ascent of 7 200m.
“There are very few flat sections, which you would find quite a bit of on the European valley floors between the mountains. Here, even between the big mountain passes, the Jock is still up and down.”
While some commentators had compared it to the now defunct Hansom Tour, he said it would be of shorter duration but much tougher.
“For us, this is a way to provide more competitive racing platforms to help prepare our best local riders for the international circuit.
“We believe road racing is back and stronger than ever and we would like to keep doing our bit to fuel the fire,” said De Villiers.
He said the tour would not be limited to the pro field but was also open to serious amateur cyclists who could handle the physical challenge.
“It really is a tough ask of these riders and we would like to assist them in the best way possible to get to the finish line every day. The final stage, in particular, is going to be a war of attrition.”
A prize purse of R100 000 will be up for grabs across all categories.
“We believe in rewarding the top end of the field for their efforts just as much as we believe in providing real value to the amateurs in the event,” he added.
De Villiers said both the Classique and Tour would count towards the road component of the new Bestmed National Cycling Series.
The Classique will cater for 900 riders, while the field for the Tour will be capped at 300. Limited spots are still available for both.
For more information, visit www.thejock.co.za. Alternatively, find Jock Cycle Classique on Facebook or follow @jockcycle.
Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique (July 18)
Stage 1: Nelspruit – White River (44km)
Stage 2: White River – Sabie, via Spitskop (45km)
Stage 3: Sabie – Nelspruit via Long Tom Pass (63km)
Bestmed Jock Tour (July 17-19)
Stage 1: Nelspruit – Kaapsehoop (27km time-trial)
Stage 2: Nelspruit – Sabie – White River – Nelspruit (140km)
Stage 3: Nelspruit – Kaapmuiden – Barberton – Nelspruit (132km)