The Sanlam MTB Invitational will provide riders with a rare two-stage weekend option when the event is held at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate near Paarl on November 19 and 20.
The event has previously been held over one day but route director Darren Herbst and ASG Events chief executive Wynand de Villiers extended the concept into a two-day race, filling what they felt was a gap in the market.
“I think there’s a demand for two-day stage races, as opposed to the longer events,” said Herbst.
“With everything this event has to offer, Wynand and I felt this was the perfect opportunity to try it. So we have taken the chance to see how it goes.”
Herbst said he was excited about the mix of trails for this year’s Sanlam MTB Invitational.
He and his team have designed some new sections around Paarl Mountain, as well as improving existing tracks.
Most of the changes are on the first stage over 60km, while the second day of 40km would be largely similar to last year.
The first stage traverses the Paarl Mountain and trails have been added to the Suid-Agter Paarl side, which connects Rhebokskloof with Spice Route Estate.
Herbst said the route around Paarl Mountain consisted of single and jeep track as well as contour roads.
“My thinking was that, especially on the southern side of Paarl, the views traversing the mountain are so spectacular you almost don’t want too much single-track where you have to concentrate on the route and miss out on the scenery.”
He added that day one went through a vast variety of terrain as the farms encompassed more than just vineyards.
“The type of terrain makes for spectacular viewing because you go through olive orchards, cattle farms, lucerne fields and crops of nuts,” said Herbst.
He said there were new sections from Rhebokskloof to the Spice Route, while the second stage route had been fine-tuned to make for faster-flowing single-track.
“So many people want to ride that single-track but have been too nervous because there are some tricky sections.
“To accommodate everyone, we have widened the single-track and made some amendments which make it much more flowing and a better experience.”
He said they had received good support from the 52 landowners, with whom they had negotiated.
“Paarl is a spectacular place and everyone works together. The majority of landowners are very excited about it and gave us great support.”
Herbst said they were still finalising the waterpoints but added they would probably have four on the first day and three on the second.