Any rider who has hopes of winning the MTN Tulbagh marathon on Saturday, February 18, will have to be wide awake. One little mistake could effectively mean "race over" for him. Kevin Evans (Nedbank360Life) can vouch for this. During last year's Cape Epic, he crashed during the Tulbagh stage of the marathon and broke his collarbone. This ended his race prematurely.
But Evans tasted sweet revenge during the most recent MTN Tulbagh marathon when he and his teammate, David George, put their rivals in a checkmate position with their tactically sound riding. George won and Evans finished second. According to Evans the racing in and around Tulbagh is challenging because of the loose sandy sections and loose rocks.
"It is a real battle to get into a comfortable rhythm because you have to struggle to find your way through and over nature's obstacles. Of course this makes the race interesting for spectators to watch."
Listening to Evans and some of the other top mountain bikers describing their racing experiences, it becomes clear that the Tulbagh marathon is truly a hard man's race. Even though the trail does not venture out of the Saronsberg valley, there are some challenging climbs and technical singletracks that test the skills, as well as the stamina, of the riders.
The organizers recommend that the riders at the back should stop to admire the scenery when they come close to the magnificent Saronsberg mountain. They will see the route winding its way around cool farm dams, between luscious green vineyards and along rocky mountain tracks that are edged with indigenous fynbos, including proteas. The route, which makes a full anti-clockwise loop around the town of Tulbagh, takes full advantage of the scenic beauty of the Saronsberg valley.
Because the race has been rescheduled for February (it was previously held in May - Ed.), it is very likely that some of the top international riders will compete. It will be ideal preparation for riders who plan to race in the Cape Epic, because it will give them an indication of their fitness levels.
"The MTN Tulbagh marathon is a test of fitness and it requires a different range of skills from all the riders who participate in the race," said Desiree Pooe, Senior Manager of Sponsorship and Events at MTN SA. "We encourage all riders to come with their families and enjoy the scenic beauty Tulbagh has to offer."
The charming, historical town of Tulbagh is situated in the winelands of the Boland in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The town is part of the Witzenberg municipal region and its neighbouring towns are Gouda, Wolseley, Ceres and Prince Alfred Hamlet.