The annual Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic cycle race, scheduled to take place on October 21, is expected to boost the local economy with around R93m (€5.7m).

The ‘extreme’ 160km route lies between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, and organisers expect that it will attract over 10 000 local, national and international cyclists and supports. This is the same route as the Comrades Marathon, with cyclists able to compete over four distances.

“The Amashova – South Africa’s oldest classic cycle race – has become a flagship event for the province and it will do a lot to address seasonality and getting people who wouldn’t otherwise take a trip at this time of the year to come to the region,” said Phindile Makwakwa, Acting Chief Executive of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN).

This promises higher occupancies for hotels and other accommodation facilities during what would normally be a quiet time, enabling the province “to build a lucrative tourism sector that will continue to create sustainable jobs for the people of KZN”, continued Makwakwa.

The event was recently placed in the famous Gran Fondo World Tour series – a world cycling series that takes place over eight months across four continents, with the Amashova leg the final race of the season. This has leveraged the event to international standing.

Makwakwa said she was proud that the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic would be the first and the only race in the prestigious ten race line-up in the Gran Fondo World Tour to be hosted in Africa. “We are looking forward to playing host to our international, national and local participants.”

The race has seen over 200 international riders participating in previous years, and this year will include top riders on the Gran Fondo World Tour series who will be flying into Durban to join them.

“The race not only promotes competitive cycling, but through the shorter and more social distances offered to cyclists, it also offers people from outside the province the opportunity to bring their entire families to participate and ultimately make this a wonderful holiday opportunity,” said Makwakwa.

“We always encourage participants to take time before or after the race to enjoy some of our other tourism offerings and create long-lasting memories as they take part in the excitement on race day as well as all the other festivities along the picturesque route.

“Apart from the excitement of our inaugural 160km race taking place with top international riders from the Gran Fondo World Tour competing, we are really looking forward to the ‘spirit of shova’ being alive and well in this year’s race,” she said.

Chief Operating Officer of the regional Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, Charles Preece, said the race continued to be a feather in the cap for the province. “It’s a great occasion and another one of those very popular sporting events which brings visitors to the region, thus boosting our tourism industry.”