The idea of introducing tandems to the race has added a slight spice to the event and gives the organisers the opportunity to advertise the event as a fun race and not just as a UCI World Cycling Tour Final qualifier, which is something that Mr. Price Sport Cycle Club Chairman of KZN Kelvin du Sart mentions will increase interest in the race.
“I think it is great that the organisers have allowed tandems into the race this year,” du Sart said. “They add a lot of character to an event and last year at the SA Champs we had tandems and they do not influence the rest of the event.
“Tandems also add to the speed of a race depending on conditions because they can be really quick on a flat course but the only downside is they a bit sluggish on a hilly course. But that is the only downside and if there not many then they won’t influence the race at all,” he explained.
The introduction of the tandems is something that could boost the profile of the race and could draw in more riders that would not have considered taking part in the race initially. Although there might not be many in the race, having them there adds to the fun element of the event.
“I am not sure how many bikes there will be at the race but tandem riding is really popular throughout the country with huge numbers turning up for the major races like the Argus and the 94.7.
“There are a lot of local tandems so we could be surprised by the amount entered and they can only help the race,” added du Sart.
The popularity of tandem racing is shown at the major cycle races in the country where there are a number of batches of tandems and the racing is taken very seriously in both the open and the mixed sections.
“Open tandems are just men whereas mixed is a man and a woman and it is serious stuff!
“At the Argus, for example, the first batch is the top 100 seeded tandems and then there are another couple of batches after that for the next best open, mixed and then the social batch. So tandem riding is taken pretty seriously and is a lot more popular than people think,” du Sart explained.
The main draw for tandem bikes, according to Du Sart, is the fact that the 94.7 is after the Msunduzi Road Challenge and getting down to Pietermaritzburg and riding will be the ideal way to prepare for one of the biggest road classics in the country.
“Having these bikes will be great for the race and it will also be great for the riders because it will offer them the perfect opportunity to train before the 94.7 as well as for the OFM Classic in Bloemfontein,” he added.
Race organiser Alec Lenferna has embraced the idea of having the tandem bikes in the race but the rules are laid down fairly strictly in order to prevent any confusion amongst the riders.
The major proviso is the fact that tandems cannot qualify for the UWCT Final and this is strictly a ‘fun ride’ for the tandem bikes. Along with this, there is not going to be an official tandem category which means that there will not be an official tandem result.