Billed as a high-quality but affordable event, race organisers ASG Events are geared up for a flood of interest in the Liberty Winelands Encounter, which takes place in mid-April.
This is the second leg of the annual Liberty Encounter Series, which includes the TransCape MTB Encounter, currently in progress, and the Waterberg Encounter in June.
Starting in Boschendal, the race will expose mountain-bikers to the scenic trails of the Cape Winelands around Franschhoek and Paarl.
ASG Events chief executive Erick Oosthuizen said an indication of the April 12-14 race’s popularity was that it was sold out last year.
They are again limiting the field to 200 teams, which incorporates a wide range of riders, from the weekend warriors to corporate teams, with a mix of professional cyclists.
“Entries have been very steady but we believe the bulk of the riders are only getting interested from now onwards, so we are sure that will build up nicely,” said Oosthuizen. “The previous four years were no different.”
He said their focus for the three-day race was to provide an event with the emphasis on quality, while ensuring it remained within an affordable bracket.
“There are two options and both offer something of value.
“The most popular category, proven by the number of entries received so far, is the option at LeFranschhoek Hotel and Spa, which can accommodate 80 teams.
“The other option is an entry with lunch and dinner included at 60% of the full accommodation category, which makes it excellent value for money.”
Besides the weekend warriors drawn by the iconic trails of the Cape Winelands, Oosthuizen said it was the perfect getaway for corporates.
“I think it’s quickly becoming a must-do event, because not everyone can take the leave needed for a long race.
“But an event from Friday to Sunday is the perfect length for many mountain-bikers and we feel we have a unique offering.
“It affords our participants with a passion for the sport the experience of a lifetime where riders are treated as VIPs and offered world-class hospitality at five-star venues.
“Our sponsors, Liberty, really try to connect with the riders to show them how serious they are about mountain-biking. The trails are awesome but not overly used and, simply put, it’s a beautiful stage race in the Winelands.”
Oosthuizen said competitors would face stages of around 50km each day, with about 1 000m of climbing.
For more detail, go to www.winelandsencounter.co.za.
CAPTION: Competitors will experience some of the most scenic trails in the Cape Winelands when the Liberty Winelands Encounter takes place from April 12 to 14. Photo: Robert Ward