Underberg – Gauteng’s Team Honeycomb Pro Cycling will be making the journey to the Drakensberg next month for their debut at the Underberg Gran Fondo on July 30.
With the rising prominence of gravel racing, and the dramatic reduction in road racing events, Honeycomb team owner and rider Kyle Mitchell sees a bright future for gravel racing in South Africa and believes the Gran Fondo is a perfect event to help the team prepare for the rest of their season.
In just its second year, the Underberg Gran Fondo has made it onto the global stage with the event being included on the Gran Fondo World Tour Gravel Series calendar for 2023. The international recognition, and the fact the event takes place at altitude with similar conditions, makes it a perfect event for elite riders preparing for the SA Gravel champs at Karkloof in August.
“We are doing the SA Gravel Champs at Karkloof in August so want the guys to do some gravel races in preparation for that and there are not many in Gauteng, so the Gran Fondo is perfect for us,” said Mitchell.
“The event ticks a few boxes for us. It is a gravel race, it has the distance we need for a good training event and it has the altitude and similar conditions we are expecting when we get to Karkloof.
“We have entered four riders: Jaco van Dyk, Casper Kruger, Jaedon Terlouw and myself. Casper and Jaco were first and second at the Gauteng Gravel Champs so they should do well and Jaedon is a good U23 rider.
The team has just returned from the Skoda Tour de Maurice in Mauritius at the weekend with some impressive results.
The team finished fourth in the team time trial and after the opening stage, Terlouw wore the white jersey as the top U23 rider. Although he did not end up winning the youth category overall, he did finish in the top ten on the final stage and had a couple of other top 15 results in a strong field packed with good European pro riders.
Mitchell believed gravel racing will grow massively and is excited to be part of the start of what he believes will be the future of South African cycling.
“I believe gravel will replace road cycling in this country in the not too distant future.
“For road race organisers it is just so hard to get municipal buy in to events to make the roads safe. It just costs too much, firstly, to pay for officials to marshall events; and secondly, to fix the roads and get them in a condition to make racing safe.
“As our roads get worse and worse you will get less and less road races I think. Race organisers will move to organising gravel races.”
That will be good news to the Underberg Gran Fondo organising team who expect a growth in their race numbers, both from within KZN borders as well as from the rest of the country, and with the introduction of Gran Fondo World Tour Gravel Series status, even from participants outside South Africa.
Entrants at this year’s event will have the option for the 94km and 140km races as was the case at the inaugural edition in 2022, but for riders who are daunted by the distances, a new, shorter 45km Tour De Farms has been introduced.
Entries for the Underberg Gran Fondo are open, and you can enter here https://underberggranfondo.co.za/how-to-enter/