The Liberty Winelands Encounter is again set to provide a memorable outing for the competitors when the popular mountain bike race takes place in the Western Cape later this month.
Veteran route designer Johan Kriegler said they wanted to ensure the three-stage, 160km journey through the Cape Winelands, which starts on April 21, kept its status as “the most beautiful race in South Africa”.
“Going through four of the oldest towns in the country in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington, there is plenty for riders to anticipate,” he said.
“In addition there are some spectacular views from the mountains in the Boland region and we have planned the route to incorporate the special scenery.”
Acknowledging that the first stage was the toughest of the three, Kriegler said they had made it slightly easier this year, while maintaining a balance between providing a strong challenge and catering for the more recreational rider.
The designer of the Wines2Whales route said the race would come in much lower down at the prestigious L’Ormarins wine estate, which belongs to South African business tycoon Johann Rupert.
“We have also brought the Boschendal single-track into the route for the first time and we have taken out one or two climbs around the Berg River Dam.”
Kriegler felt there were certain areas which could have an influence on the race.
“On stage one the Botmaskop climb over 15km and the single-track around the Berg River Dam could be telling,” he said.
“Although stage two has a lot of open riding, the final day will see plenty of single-track which will see the riders’ technical skills put to the test.”
With a total ascent of 3 700km spread evenly over the race, the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, will cover 54km on the opening stage, 57km on the second day and 48km on the Sunday.