The race organizers have completely changed two of the stages and included fast-flowing new singletrack. Here’s the latest update from the event.
Since the inaugural edition in 2013 the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, has forged a reputation for its superb route. Filled with singletracks, challenging climbs and thrilling descents the four-day, UCI, stage race is a mountain bikers’ mountain bike race. An event that demands skill and fitness in equal measures.
This year’s race will see the biggest revamp of the route since the addition of a fourth stage back in 2019. “Kaleo’s Ernst van Dyk has been very busy in recent years, building a vast network of trails on Malabar and the surrounding Koue Bokkeveld farms” Dryland Event Management’s Henco Rademeyer praised. “This has made it possible for us to create entirely new routes for Stage 1 and 4, which I’m sure the entrants will really enjoy.”
“Not only have we changed the first and last stages entirely” Van Dyk stated. “But we’re also looking forward to welcoming mountain bikers to a greener Koue Bokkeveld than they’ve seen in recent years. The 2021 winter was one of particularly good rainfall, which has the veld in fantastic condition but which also helped our trail building. Now that the singletracks have had a chance to bed in they’re rolling superbly.”
STAGE 1 | The opening stage will take place on Thursday, 3 February. The route will head out of Kaleo in a northerly direction and features a fast jeep track and gravel road start. Once the course turns off the farm roads onto singletrack the trails are virtually uninterrupted for the remaining 20 kilometres of the day. “The singletracks on Stage 1 are fast and flowing” Rademeyer revealed. “Despite the 30 kilometre distance for the stage, I expect the winning time to be under an hour. It’s going to be a lot of fun to race and to watch! Plus, there is a lot more we could add to the day, so we might just expand from a short afternoon stage to a full stage, starting in the morning, in a couple of years’ time.” The action-packed nature of Stage 1 will necessitate a good seeding for the race. Groups will set out at 10-minute intervals, but nonetheless, faster riders, targeting a good result overall will want to start in one of the earlier batches. The 2022 Attakwas Extreme will be used as the primary seeding event for the race. Riders who take part in both will therefore be at an advantage when lining up in the Koue Bokkeveld.
STAGE 2 | This stage will once again explore the Witzenberg Valley, but the route to the fabled trails which the Hanekom brothers have carved from the rugged sandstone terrain has been updated. A new approach to the Old Wagon trail climb into the valley will be followed by a change within the Witzenberg loop. “Hannes and Sakkie [Hanekom] have been hard at work revamping their trails. They’re excited to share the new take on their well-known trails and have also added a few new sections to further enhance the riding experience” Rademeyer explained.
STAGE 3 | The Merino Monster remains the stand-out feature of Stage 3. “The Queen Stage will remain largely the same” Rademeyer confirmed. “Though we will be taking the riders down the Old Gydo Pass rather than the Du Toit Drop. Sadly, the singletrack descent caused too many bottle-necks and without adding a climb, which would make the stage unnecessarily difficult, before it there is no way to spread the field. Because the Merino Monster dominates the stage in everyone’s mind, I think the rest of the day doesn’t get the praise it deserves” Rademeyer reflected. “The riding along the foothills of the Monster, in the Ceres Valley, is really beautiful.”
STAGE 4 | The final stage has had a complete overall and consists of well-sculpted singletracks, challenging but rewarding new jeep track sections and exhilarating descents. “Stage 4 begins by following the old Stage 1 route to the south” Kaleo’s trail guru, Van Dyk, said. “It loops towards the east, skirting the foothills of the Merino Monster’s mountain range before crossing into Loch Lynn. If I may say so myself the trails are incredible; there’s one descent in particular where we’ve built a series of berms and jumps, for the riders who like to get air, which will really ensure that everyone ends the race on a high.”
“This new area provides a blank canvas for the future development of this stage, brand new singletrack through never-before-ridden routes are on the cards for the next few years” Rademeyer pointed out. “The reason we changed the day was to provide a shorter final stage. Historically some of the slower riders were taking 6 hours to complete the last day. We’d like them to finish in around 4 hours rather and get to enjoy the final prize giving too. The shortened final stage allows this, but still ends the race on a high” Rademeyer concluded. “It is packed with singletracks and will, I believe, have the riders grinning from ear-to-ear when they cross the finish line.” Learn more