The Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter is set to provide much greater variety for the competitors when the mountain-bike race takes place next year.
In moving the start from Knysna to George, route director Wayne Collett said they had been able to shorten some of the stages, as well as to add a few fun elements.
The seven-stage event, powered by Volvo, takes place from February 2 to 9 and will end in Franschhoek in the Western Cape.
The overall route has been reduced from in excess of 650km to 591km for next year, helping Collett to incorporate different terrains during the week.
“Previously, the first three days were characterised by relatively long stages, but making the overall distance slightly shorter has helped us to add a few different elements.”
The George start meant they had brought the Klein Karoo back into the mix.
“This region was not part of the route this year, but the new start means you have the coastal character of the George region, the mountain riding over Montagu Pass, and then the semi-arid conditions of the Karoo.”
“After the first three days, the riders will roll through various farmlands of wheat and dairy before hitting some single-track sections in the last stage as they traverse the Cape Winelands.
“We have really tried to capture every biome from George to Franschhoek, which includes coastal conditions, indigenous rain forest and the dry nature of the Karoo.”
Although he said the route was a little easier, he was quick to add that it did not mean it was “easy”.
“We have tried to keep every stage to under 100km,” he said. “There are some just over that distance but, if you are well prepared, it is something everyone should be able to handle.”
He did have a warning for the cyclists, though, in terms of the weather.
“For example, we did some trial rides last week and from battling 40 degree heat in one section, the next day we were facing wind and driving rain, riding with thick jackets.
“So the weather can play a major part in the challenge the race presents and the riders need to be prepared for that.”