Next year’s Bestmed Tour of Good Hope will have a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to legendary South African president Nelson Mandela when the Drakenstein Correctional Centre situated between Paarl and Franschhoek becomes the new race venue.
Previously known as the Victor Verster Prison, the facility was the centre of the world’s attention on February 11, 1990, when Mandela, who died in 2013, took his first steps to freedom through its gates after 27 years of incarceration.
It will act as the Tour of Good Hope’s race village from March 5 to 9, with an international field of cyclists starting and finishing under the famous Madiba statue at the entrance to the prison.
The correctional centre’s communications manager Manfred Jacobs, who has worked there for over two decades, said the staging of the Tour of Good Hope, presented by the City of Drakenstein, would provide a special link in the 100 years’ celebration for Mandela.
“Next year, Madiba would have turned 100 so it is a special occasion,” he said. “It’s a huge boost for us to host the race and to have the top local and overseas riders competing from our entrance.”
Jacobs said they all had many special memories of Mandela, who spent his last 14 months at Victor Verster, but one lesson always stood out.
“The one thing he taught us is that big doors hang on small hinges, meaning that even if you are not the most significant person around, if you can still add value you are important.
“And that’s what we try to do here, to add value, not only to the inmates but also to the public we are serving.”
ASG Events’ operational manager Darren Herbst said they were delighted with the new option and felt it would work really well for the five-day event.
“We have put in a lot of effort to establish this race on the calendar and the City of Drakenstein have assisted us greatly,” he said.
“The Victor Verster played such an important part in Madiba’s life and the new venue will encompass a number of things, such as cyclists riding past the house where he lived, so it should make for a memorable celebration.”
The Tour of Good Hope will cover a total distance of 490km in the Cape Winelands.