With the number of international riders having more than doubled for next year’s event, the Old Mutual joBerg2c’s reputation is steadily growing in mountain biking circles across the globe.
The fourth edition of the nine-day stage race, which starts on April 26 next year, will see 300 teams from at least 16 different countries represented on the start line at Heidelberg, just south of Johannesburg. According to one of the organisers Craig Wapnick, there had been a surge of interest from the United States, Britain, Belgium and Australia in particular.
“This is primarily due to the great magazine coverage we’ve received there as well as word of mouth from riders who’ve done the event.”
To date, 70 foreign riders – compared to 28 in 2012 – have signed up for what used to be South Africa’s best-kept secret, with more queries being received on a daily basis. Wapnick said this represented a steady and significant growth on the inaugural event, which fielded 12 overseas participants.
He said negotiations were under way with well-known international riders who had expressed an interest in undertaking the 900km journey to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
“It’s a great full-service ride across South Africa, on awesome trails through almost a hundred private farms, with genuine local hospitality and, of course, delicious food.”
As an added bonus, said Wapnick, the final three days followed the same route as the world’s largest fully serviced mountain bike stage race – the sani2c. He said a longer event such as this was ideal for visitors wanting to maximise their stay and get a real feel for the South African landscapes and people.
“The Old Mutual joBerg2c is known for its incredible single track, which is perfect for the millions of trail-loving riders around the world.”
Although the event was sanctioned by Cycling South Africa, Wapnick said UCI points were not a current focus as the event catered for all levels of riders.
“Our aim is to attract people who love riding rather than those who enjoy racing. However, we do make sure that the racing snakes are handsomely rewarded.”
This year’s race offered a prize purse of R330 000. For riders just beyond SA’s borders (countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana) there is an unofficial African Challenge, with bragging rights going to the winners. He said those who were pressed for time could opt for the three or six-day versions of the event.
Enter the Old Mutual joBerg2c before January 31 at www.joberg2c.co.za.
Find updates www.facebook.com/joberg2c and @joberg2c_journo.