Cyclists ready to tackle mountainous terrain

Richard Nkosi

Seven professional teams will participate in this year's Selati Africycle race, which is presented by Toyota.

The race will start at Badplaas in Mpumalanga on Sunday.

Both national and international recreational and professional riders and teams are fine-tuning their preparations for the spectacular 640km event.

Prince Maluleke, the 20-year-old team Neotel rider who was the overall winner of last year's race, enters this year as race favourite.

Maluleke and the five members team his Neotel team have been undergoing a rigorous all-round training schedule focusing on endurance, to effectively pull through the four stages of hilly terrain and windy conditions through the mountainous terrain.

Their other focus has been speed training covering up to 1200km a week around Heidelberg and the Suikerbossie nature reserve, with many climbs similar to the race route.

Maluleke said: "I've trained hard together with my team. It would be a great honour to win the race a second time, but the main focus is for the team to work together and take the win."

Among the teams entering this year is Zambia, the first African team to compete in the race. Another notable inclusion is the 13-member South African Police Service team.

The route for this year's Selati Africycle is as follows:

l U-23/elite, veterans, sub-veterans, masters, female and open (September 9 to 15): Stage 1 - Badplaas to Malalane; stage 2: Malalane-Nelspruit; stage 3: 50km time trial around Nelspruit; stage 4: Nelspruit-Lydenberg; stage 5: Lydenburg-Blyde River Canyon; stage 6: Blyde River Canyon-Sabie; stage 7: Sabie-Nelspruit.

l Veteran and sub-veteran challenge (September 12 to 15):

Stage 1: Nelspruit to Lydenberg; stage 2: Lydenberg-Blyde River Canyon; stage 3: Blyde River Canyon-Sabie; stage 4: Sabie-Nelspruit.