The Mitsubishi Sani Dragon, a new two-day stage race on the South African mountain biking calendar, has awakened and will climb up Sani Pass for the inaugural edition from September 25.
The famous pass near Underberg, in the foothills of the Drakensberg, is a rough gravel road linking South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Climbing 1 332m in just nine kilometres, it is only accessible by four-wheel drive or mountain bike.
According to race organiser Matt Goode, the Department of Environmental Affairs has granted permission to tar the pass road, which means time is running out for mountain bikers to enjoy the challenging gravel surface ride.
Good said no other stage race incorporated the iconic climb and that logistical challenges meant that only a limited number of entries would be available.
“South African mountain bikers love a challenge. What bigger challenge than climbing and descending the legendary Sani Pass?
“With so many stage races on the calendar these days, rider experience and race route are key elements and we have focused heavily on those two aspects.”
The first stage will form a 70km scenic loop around Underberg and Himeville on district roads, jeep tracks and single-track.
The climb up to the summit of Sani Pass will form the highlight of day two before returning to the race village at the Underberg Farmers Association showgrounds.
The Dragon Lite option will offer a more accessible 40km daily distance and also take riders up the pass on stage two – but just as far as the South African border post.
Both events are open to teams of two, with limited solo entries available.
For more news visit Sani Dragon.