According to Barry Austin, Mzansi Tour’s Sporting Director, the 184 km stage from Lydenburg to Middelburg is possibly the fairest of the tour and will provide the most opportunities for both the all-rounders and the pure sprinters to take the stage victory; everything will depend on the team tactics of the day.
According to Austin, the road slopes upwards soon after the start in Lydenburg, a town in Mpumalanga situated on the Sterkspruit/Dorps River, and will set the scene for those riders who want to break away. “After the initial bumps in the road, it opens up on the Dullstroom plateau which is approximately 2100m above sea level.”
Dullstroom, also known as Emnotweni, is listed as one of the top 15 high-altitude training venues for international athletes in the world according to an altitude training guide for athletes ‘Notes from Higher Grounds.’ It is also well known as one of the premier fly-fishing destinations in South Africa
Scientists have determined that at high altitudes of 2 000 meters plus, we inhale approximately three-quarters the amount of oxygen molecules that we would at sea level, which results in difficult breathing.
Photo Credit: Zoon Cronje
Austin states, that the climb at Stofberg could be the point where the stage would be won or lost.
“It is a nasty little climb which could shock the legs before the riders face the open, wind- exposed road to Middelburg during the last 50km of racing. If a group of riders should be away with a lead of more than six minutes on the bunch after the climb, it could be game over for the chasing group’’
Another exciting element of stage two of the Mzansi Tour will be that of the opportunities for sprinters to excel, with the final few metres being a sprinter’s dream. “It is a wide open road that will enable fantastic sprinting, but the wind could be a factor.”
The original name, Lydenburg, was derived from Dutch and it means ‘Town of Suffering’. It has become the centre of the South African fly-fishing industry and is an agricultural and mining centre.
Dullstroom was established in 1883 by Dutchman Wolterus Dull as a place where Dutch immigrants could be settled.
At 2,077 m above sea level, the town features the highest railway station in South Africa, as well as the highest point in the province (2,332 m high) at the foot of De Berg.
Belfast, or eMakhazeni, is a small town in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. The town is renowned for its excellent trout-fishing conditions.
Belfast is 2,025m above sea level, which makes it one of the coldest towns in South Africa. It was named after Richard Charles O'Neill from Belfast, modern Northern Ireland, who owned the farm on which the town was built.
Middelburg is situated conveniently close to one of the main routes to the Kruger National Park, and has a small but growing tourism industry.
Some landmarks and notable features in and around the town include the Middelburg Dam, site of the annual Middelburg Mile swimming event, the Botshabelo Mission Station Museum and the associated [Ndebele] tourist village.
With the high altitudes, climbs and sprinting opportunities stage two of the Mzansi Tour powered by Cathsseta is bound to be an exciting one!