The 4 day MTN Panorama road tour has become a favourite amongst road cyclist and for good reason. It has a very unique format as it is the only road event in the country where teams of two riders race together. This means you and your partner must start, stay and finish every stage together. The concept is very similar to that used in mountain bike stage events except that it is on tar.
What also adds to the character of the event is the lovely scenery in which the race takes place. The Lowveld is a beautiful region of the country with its green forests all year round and mountainous terrain. So no matter how much you suffer at least the “Panorama” views make it all worthwhile.
I partnered up with local cyclist Dalene van der Leek for the event after my original partner, Marinda Engelbreght sadly had to withdraw due to an injury sustained a few weeks before the event. I am happy to report that Marinda is back on her bike and if all goes well we will reunite at the Double Century in November later this year.
The 9th edition of the MTN Panorama Tour ran from 26th – 29th of April with all four stages starting and finishing at the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in White river. The centre with its tranquil gardens, hotel and restaurants created a relaxing atmosphere after every stage where riders could replenish empty glycogen stores and share their stage stories.
But before indulging in a slice of carrot cake and a warm cappuccino there was some racing to deal with first…. J
Day ones’ stage (107km and 1825m of ascent) was on an out and back route taking riders on the Lydenberg road all the way to the turnaround point at Sudwala Caves before heading back to Casterbridge
The circular route of stage two (85km and 1192m of ascent) saw riders mainly descending towards Nelspruit before making their way back up to White River via the painfully steep hills close to Nelspruit airport.
Day 3 was the queen stage (113km and 2055m of ascend) of this year’s edition as it was the longest in distance and included the most climbing of all the days. The circular route led riders towards Sabie, up Long Tom Pass before finally heading back to that deserving slice of carrot cake at the finish.
The fourth and final stage (38km and 372m of climbing) was an out and back time trail on the same road which led us to Sabie on the previous days stage.
Dalene (Bell’s Cycling) and I (Garmin) couldn’t have asked for a better experience from the event. Apart from truly enjoying every day at the tour, we managed to win all four stages, of which two were decided in exciting sprint finishes, to secure an overall win by more than 10minutes. The pairing of An-li Kachelhoffer ( Activate) and Anli Smith ( Cycle Lab) kept us on our toes throughout the event finishing in 2nd place overall with the pairing of Andrea Steyn (Cycle Lab) and Marlene Mathey (Cycle Lab) rounding out the podium in 3rd place.
The MTN Panorama Tour is a road event that every cyclist must add to their bucket list regardless of the discipline they prefer. I’ll definitely be keeping my calendar open for this unique event in the foreseeable future.