The 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour marked the 45th edition of the famous race around the Mother City. In that long history, there have been few more perfect days for a big day on a bike. Here’s a recap of the day.
The Cape’s fickle weather played along and helped the city celebrate the near 30 000 participants who came out to ride and race. At the sharp end, the elite men and women probably faced the worst of the weather, as a South Easter made for cagy racing, particularly in the Southern Peninsula.
In the women’s race, the headwind meant that the field only split on Chapmans Peak Drive, when Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio split the field asunder. Despite this, the groups came back together again, first in Hout Bay and then again in Camps Bay. This meant that the women’s race came down to a sprint finish and Kim le Court proved fastest for the third time in a row, adding a fourth Cape Town Cycle Tour title to her palmarès. Moolman-Pasio, who finished third in the sprint, then started a second lap with a group of women from Khayelitsha’s Khaltsha Cycles. The 17 young women were kitted out in Rocacorba Cycling apparel and Avalanche Bicycles for their Cape Town Cycle Tour. Most took on the 109-kilometer full route; but a few, who felt unprepared for such a long ride did the inaugural edition of the 42-kilometre race. By all accounts, they had a fantastic ride.
In the men’s race, an early break was allowed to gain 4 minutes before the chase began in earnest. With the peloton having left their pursuit too late Chris Jooste was able to outsprint his breakaway companions, Andries Nigrini, Jaedon Terlouw and Daniel Loubser to win the 2023 title. “With such strong riders in the break, things fell into place,” an ecstatic Jooste stated afterward. “I knew that if we kept up the speed and our confidence, victory would be ours.”
As did the e-Bikers. The growth in electrically assisted bicycles saw a call for e-Bikes to be included in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, in 2020. They have become a more common sight on the route, buzzing up the climbs of Smitswinkel, Chapmans Peak and Suirkerbossie. The initiative makes the race more manageable for riders whose health or fitness would otherwise dissuade them from taking part. The same is true for the new 42-kilometre route. Racing down the Blue Route before turning around and heading back to the Castle of Good Hope and City Hall it provided a teaser for would-be full 109-kilometre race riders. The Under 15 boys and girls and the Under 17 girls raced across the short course too, while the Under 17 boys started in Fish Hoek for a 79-kilometre race.
With the final starters in the long route only setting out at 09:07 there were riders on the route until cut-off at 16:07. Helping them along were thousands of Capetonians. Kalk Bay, Simons Town, Noordhoek and Hout Bay were particular hotspots. Crowds gathered around speakers and pitched gazebos. Some sprayed water on sweltering riders and others offered ice-cold beers. A group in Noordhoek even set up an inflatable slip-and-slide.
All of this helped encourage the strugglers around the course. For everyone knows that although the Cape Town Cycle Tour is permanently scheduled for the second Sunday in March, many enter and then forget to train for it. How hard can the unofficial fun ride World Championships be after all? Well… on a day with perfect weather, a lot easier than in years when the Cape Doctor howls or a winter storm arrives unseasonably early.
Though there was every reason for the 45th edition to be one for the record books, it will inevitably fade in the memories of those who took part. It is only the editions when mother nature conspires against cyclists that burn into cycling’s collective consciousness. Nobody who rode on Sunday, 12 March 2023, is sorry that this race was less eventful. Sometimes perfect is just perfect…