A three-day encounter over some of the best mountain biking terrain beckons for cyclists when the Liberty Winelands Encounter takes place from April 15 to 17.
The inaugural event was limited to 100 two-man teams to ensure a boutique feel, according to ASG race organiser Wynand de Villiers.
“This year we have allocated 250 slots to cater for the race’s growth while retaining the experience that modern lifestyle athletes demand.”
Dubbed as “South Africa’s most beautiful stage race”, the Winelands Encounter provides participants with panoramic views of mountains, orchards and vineyards on the bike, he said.
“Off the bike, we are talking luxury accommodation, first-class service and a culinary experience second to none.”
This year’s route passes through a number of iconic Boland towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington.
“All of these towns are renowned for some of the best cycling routes in the country,” said De Villiers. “In addition, our route builders add their special flair to some uncharted trails.”
Last year’s winner Chris Wolhuter, who rode alongside Jared Haley, said the race had been the right combination of a challenging ride and a five-star experience.
“I think the first edition went off really well,” said Wolhuter, who rides in the colours of the new Imbuko Wines-Freewheel Cycology pro team. “There were some fantastic trails and it’s got the potential to grow very nicely.”
While the scenery is appealing to many, there is also an edge to the event, Haley pointed out last year.
“We heard it was more of an experience than a race, but the moment the guys put on the number boards, it quickly became one,” he said.
Spouses are not forgotten as the organisers strive to ensure the event transforms into a family experience.
“They will be able to book meals along the route with their riding partners to create a unique and family-orientated experience,” said De Villiers.
Entries for the 175km three-day event are accepted until midnight today.