Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour rolls in the Rands for Cape Town!

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Today’s annual Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour race, with 35000 cyclists, is a welcome three-day income injection for the Cape Town hospitality industry, which has been under severe strain this summer season.   The economy of the Cape is expected to benefit by R500 million, an increase in R10 million relative to last year, estimates Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan, reports the Weekend Argus.

The President of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, Michael Bagraim, has described the Cycle Tour as a “second Christmas”, with so many hotels and guest houses booked for the weekend, to accommodate out of town cyclists and their families.  Mr Bagraim clearly is not in the hospitality industry, being a labour lawyer, in that the Christmas days are never good for the accommodation business – what he meant to say, I am sure, that it is a second New Year, when Cape Town is at its fullest.

Italian-style restaurants serving pasta and pizza have been particularly popular this weekend, as cyclists carbo-loaded for the 110 km race, which includes challenging hills such as Suikerbossie in Hout Bay. 

Gilfellan also stated that the Cycle Tour does not only benefit Cape Town but its outlying areas too, including the Winelands.  We contest this, as we have not seen any spill-over into Franschhoek.   However, there have been been allied cycle races over the past two weekends, and this may have had a small benefit.  However most cyclists appear to have been accommodated in tented accommodation.

VIP cyclists to participate include Josie Borain, Makhaya Ntini, Robbie Fleck and Bob Skinstad.  The Argus report quotes the Western Cape Department of Tourism spokesperson Tammy White as saying that “more than 100000 international people had flocked to the city for the cycle festival”.  This figure is contested, as there are only 2500 overseas cyclists from 52 countries participating, according to the Cape Times.   Due to a lack of accommodation in suburbs such as Camps Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard in general, foreigners have been unable to book to stay in Cape Town over this weekend.    About 10000 bicycles were efficiently handled by Cape Town International airport on Friday.

Bagraim said that the Cycle Tour, with its large number of participants and supporters, was bigger for Cape Town than the World Cup was last year.  For brand participants, the Cycle Tour is big – 65000 litres of Coca Cola, 82500 litres of Powerade, and 100000 litres of water, with 100 tons of ice, will be available to the cyclists.  This is the 34th Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, the first in 1978 attracting 525 riders.   The Giro del Capo, which has fallen on the Saturday before the Cycle Tour for a number of years, was cancelled this year due to lack of sponsorship.  This year 1200 cyclists are raising funds for charity through their participation.

David Bellairs, the CEO of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, the organisers of the Cycle Tour, hailed the city’s new dedicated cycle lanes as a ‘sweet victory’ for cyclists, who have to train in dangerous conditions, and every year have been involved in accidents.   One of the first cycling lanes to have been installed is the West Coast one, out to Table View.  Others to follow include Athlone, Gatesville, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Strand, Brackenfell, Kuils River, Eerste River, and along the Liesbeeck Parkway.  About 300 km of cycle lanes have been developed in Cape Town to date.   Four types of cycle lanes have been developed, some in public open spaces, others are dedicated, and some are shared with motorists.   Bellairs is confident that the new cycle lanes will lead to an increased interest in cycling, and will therefore result in a greater number of entries for future Cycle Tour races.

We wish Team Cargo Carriers, who bought out Whale Cottage Camps Bay for this weekend, the best of luck for the Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour today.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

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