Woke up at 5 am on Sunday. It was during breakfast that the first signs of trouble surfaced. The race had been shortened to 78km. The announcement was accompanied by this short statement from the organizers:
“Due to protest action unrelated to the Cape Town Cycle Tour and damage to the road-surface on the route, the 2017 Cycle Tour will be diverted at Glencairn Expressway and participants will be redirected over Glencairn Hill to Sun Valley and on to Chapman’s Peak.”
We finished breakfast and began the short ride to the start. We were immediately hit by fierce winds and I knew we were in for an interesting day. The start line was right in the middle of the city and the tall blocks of buildings was channeling and accelerating the wind. It was while we were waiting to set off that the starter made the announcement that the race had been cancelled. Sigh. It later turned out that the first groups that started had been decimated by the winds and quite a few cyclists had to be stretchered off the course! Videos later emerged of cyclists struggling to stand and bikes literally flying, so fierce were the winds.
The organizers released this statement later:
“Based on consultation with all the emergency services, the Joint Operations Centre of the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2017 regrets to announce that they have had to take the unprecedented step of cancelling this year’s 40th Cycle Tour.
This is due to winds in excess of 100km/hour on parts of the route, and the need to urgently clear the roads for emergency vehicles to attend to fires.“
Can you imagine the disappointment? I had flown 11 hrs 30 minutes (at significant cost) to get here along with thousands of other cyclists. There were estimated to be over 5,000 international cyclists, some who were excited to be tackling the race for the first time. All 35,000 cyclists would be disappointed. It was absolutely the right call though. It would have been carnage to allow 35,000 cyclists to race in those conditions. I have no doubt that there would have been deaths if the race had not been cancelled. Kudos to the organizers for making such a brave but correct call.