Comrades of cycling to test the toughest

Wanted! Riders with a sense of adventure; cyclists who are not afraid to face a tough challenge.

This is not the wording for an advertisement for the Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique, but it could have been.

The race, presented by ASG and organised by Wynand de Villiers, will be held in the Lowveld on July 21.

De Villiers can’t hide his excitement when he talks about the Bestmed Jock. “Do you know it is the second oldest classic in South African cycling? This year is the 29th Jock. Only the Argus is older.

“I regard the Jock as the Comrades of cycling. Any rider who finishes can be proud of the achievement, having conquered what is possibly the toughest climb in local road cycling.”

The climb De Villiers refers to is Boulders on the second stage between Nelspruit and Kaapmuiden. It is 7km long with an average gradient of nine per cent. For about 3km it goes up to 14 per cent.

De Villiers predicts that is where the race will be won or lost. “Any rider who is prepared to push himself through the pain barrier will be able to ride ‘calendar days’ into his rivals.

“The backmarkers always battle a bit to get to the top, but there is no need to get despondent – there is a long descent to the finish line.”

According to De Villiers, the three-stage, 154km Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique is the biggest winter road event in the country, attracting 1 300 riders annually.

“Riders love the three-stage format. The locals treat them really well before and after the racing. The food and hospitality just couldn’t be better.”

Follow Wynand on @CyclingnewsZA.

Enter on or contact them via e-mail or phone 076 621 1807