The General Manager for Infrastructure Management and Economic Services at the KZN Provincial Treasury, Clive Coetzee, believes that it is important that events like the Msunduzi Road Challenge continue to grow the city’s reputation.
“We need to continue to build the brand of Pietermaritzburg as Africa’s ‘Bike City’,” Coetzee mentioned.
“Hosting so many of these occasions means that businesses will become more involved due to the long term benefits and the knowledge that Pietermaritzburg is capable of hosting such high profile events.”
In August the first ever UCI MTB and Trials World Championships on African soil was hailed a success, following the BMX World Championships in 2010 and the UWCT Final in 2012, as well and the upcoming 2014 World Marathon Championships, the city has hosted and will host some of the most prestigious cycling events on the global calendar.
Pietermaritzburg has also been selected by the UCI to host the 2015 Confederation for African Cycling Forum which will bring together people from all over the continent as they plan the future of cycling in Africa. This is seen as the precursor to the World Cycling Forum that Pietermaritzburg has applied to host in 2016.
Coetzee feels that it is important to note that building confidence in the local economy is something that these cycling events have done.
“It will take a few years before we will be able to talk about the impact that these events have had on the economy but the effects should be hugely positive. This continuation of hosting events is what the economy needs to grow and that growth brings confidence from investors and businesses.”
The president of KZN cycling Greg Stedman knows that the reputation of Pietermaritzburg is growing amongst the cycling world and feels that if they can continue to host major events well it will go from strength to strength.
“Pietermaritzburg as a city adopted a strategy to host major cycling events in and around the city,” Stedman said. “These events have been a resounding success and the city has a lot to offer in terms of its surroundings and the ability to host road, BMX and Mountain Bike events in close proximity to the city centre.”
Road cycling, logistically, is more difficult to organise and with this it might seem to be less popular than its offroad sibling but according to Stedman that is not the case.
“Road Cycling is a very popular discipline of cycling, but for obvious reasons requires a lot of planning in order to provide for a professional event. It would be fantastic to see more of these events in and around Pietermaritzburg, I think they would be enormously popular,” he added.
The UWCT that was held in Pietermaritzburg last year was another successful event hosted by the City and with that success the attitude towards hosting popular road cycling races increased.
“All of the events that have been held, have received great feedback and this event (UWCT) was no exception. The effort and commitment that Pietermaritzburg and the Province has shown to the establishment of PMB as the continents “Bike City” is growing in strength,” explained Stedman.
The nature of the weather conditions in Pietermaritzburg has also lent itself to being a favourable destination amongst riders and the recent MTB and Trials World Championships could have enhanced this for a number of the riders.
“South Africa and particularly Kwa-Zulu Natal is an ideal winter training destination for overseas athletes. Pietermaritzburg has cycling facilities that make it an ideal cycling destination for both these overseas athletes and tourists alike,” mentioned the President of KZN cycling.
The 2013 Msunduzi Road Challenge takes place on 26 and 27 October 2013, based at Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg. More information can be found at www.msunduziroadchallenge.co.za