For the first time in the forty year history of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the race was cancelled, two hours after its start, due to a number of factors, leaving 35000 disappointed cyclists who had traveled from around the country and internationally to participate in the world’s largest timed cycling event.
In a Tweet at 6h53 the Cape Town Cycle Tour organizers wrote: ‘Due to extreme weather conditions, #CycleTour2017 has regrettable been cancelled. Please do NOT approach the start line’. The race is still affectionately called The Argus Cycle Tour, after its former name, when it was sponsored by the local newspaper. Statements by the organizers emphasized the importance of the cyclists’ safety as a first priority.
The official statement by the organizers of the Cape Town Cycle Tour is the following, issued at midday:
‘STATEMENT REGARDING STOPPAGE OF THE 40TH CAPE TOWN CYCLE TOUR FROM DAVID BELLAIRS – MEDIA, MARKETING AND SPONSORSHIP DIRECTOR OF THE CAPE TOWN CYCLE TOUR TRUST
[12 March 2017, Cape Town] It is with great regret that at 06h38 this morning, we were forced to make the difficult decision to stop the 40th edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
This morning presented a number of challenges, not least of which were wind speeds considerably higher than predicted yesterday. This, combined with a large fire that broke out in Hout Bay in the early hours of this morning, and the added risk of protest action en route, were all contributing factors to the decision made in our Joint Operation Centre (JOC) by the VOC Commander to stop the event.
Our priority first and foremost will always be the safety of all our participants and the risk of injury and potential fatality at the start, at the finish and on Chapman’s Peak warranted this extremely difficult decision. Furthermore, we only made the decision after endeavouring to mitigate all risks to keep the event open.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust wishes to extend its immense gratitude and thanks to the City of Cape Town and all those services involved at our JOC in Tygerberg. This includes Disaster Management Services, the Events Office of the City of Cape Town, Fire and Safety, Traffic Authorities and Metro Police as well as our medical services, Mediclinic, the Provincial EMS and South African Police Services. These relationships have been developed over many years and it is in times of crisis that the measure of these relationships are truly tested. I would particularly like to single out the Executive Director of Safety and Security, Mr Richard Bosman as well as the Executive Mayor’s office for the tremendous support under these trying circumstances.
To all our sponsors, who have backed our decision 100%, our eternal gratitude for your understanding and support. Lastly, to the participants who have invested time, effort and resources in getting to the start line, our heartfelt thanks – ultimately this decision was made in the interests of your safety. To the Rotary Clubs and volunteers who have been standing on the route in difficult conditions, we appreciate your tireless effort and sacrifice.
We are humbled by the outpouring of offers to assist and donate food, product and resources to those in need as a result of us stopping this Cycle Tour. We are in the process of co-ordinating efforts to ensure that goods reach those in need in the fire-affected areas in Hout Bay. We encourage the public wishing to donate to please contact Thula Thula in Hout Bay to donate non-perishable goods. The Mayor of Hout Bay has opened the Hout Bay Sports Centre in readiness to receive perishable goods for immediate distribution into the community’.
Yesterday cyclists were warned about the gale force South-Easter wind which had been forecast for today, and was said to be gusting at over 100km/h. I saw a video with a cyclist barely able to control his bicycle, and a nearby motorcycle had fallen over due to the force of the wind.
In the last minute, in the early hours of this morning, it was announced that the 109km route had been shortened to a 87km one, due to threatened protests in Masiphumele, a township near Kommetjie and Noordhoek, and a poor road surface in that area.
Since yesterday a fire has been raging in the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay, and early this morning another fire is said to have started on the opposite mountainside, potentially affecting the race, as it goes through Hout Bay. The organizers statement reflected that emergency vehicles needed to get to the affected areas, and this would have created a logistical problem. A third fire started in Hout Bay near the Disa River after 11h00 this morning. It has just (at midday) been announced that a fire has erupted above Camps Bay, which meant the Cycle race could have exacerbated the fire fighting operation in this suburb too.
The upside of the cancellation of the Cycle Tour is that all perishable food and refreshments which would have been made available to the participating cyclists will be donated by Pick ‘n Pay, Coca Cola, and Momentum to the Hout Bay residents who have been left homeless by the fires.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein