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  aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers Media Release

 No: td1803

28 March 2018

   Embargo: None

Written by: Dave Macleod


Gary Beneke set to toast Tour Durban 25th anniversary

Durban - 25 years after he won the first edition of the race, cycling icon Gary Beneke will be toasting the milestone anniversary of the aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers on Sunday 29 April.

One of the best South African road racers, Beneke was a dominant force as an elite rider and continues to race hard in his Masters age group, and hardly ever missed as Tour Durban, with more than twenty under his belt.

The 56 year old, who lives and rides out of the cycling hub of Glenvista in Gauteng, recalls the buzz surrounding the launch of the race in 1993.

“It was the Tour D’Urban back then!” he recalls. “The event was launched with big fanfare, and me being a keen professional racing cyclist, it was another big national event with status.

“I was definitely excited and something to look forward to, not only the appeal of the actual race but also an opportunity to go to Durban and enjoy the sea!” he said.

Beneke says the appeal of the race amongst both elite and social riders has always been its unique place in the national calendar.

“For us it was a race with a holiday feeling and chance to enjoy a weekend down at the coast,” he said.

“The weather is usually fantastic at that time of year, but we have had a few years when it has been ridden in tough conditions, with wind, rain and cold,” said Beneke.

The route has changed a number of times over the quarter of a century of racing, but Beneke said he always felt he had an advantage at the race.

“I was relatively familiar with the route,” he recalls. “The hills and the roads were definitely challenging and undulating, taking in all the hills of Umhlanga, Verulam, Tongaat, Umhlali, Salt Rock and Ballito.

“I was able to prepare my tactics,” the Dimension Data/Biogen/Transaction Capital/Laurium Capital backed athlete explained. “Ii had to save my energy for the steep two kilometre hill out of Ballito approximately 30 km from the finish when the critical race winning attacks would take place.

“It was critical to be in front of the bunch in the build up to this hill. In the old days they were very narrow bumpy twisting roads from Salt Rock to Chaka's Rock and Ballito,” he remembers.

He also recalls that the feared climb up from the M4 to the Sharks Board offices on Umhlanga Ridge as a defining feature of the first race.

While the details are somewhat lost bin the mists of time, Beneke says he probably raced his favourite bike of the time to the win, a Look KG 96 carbon bike with Shimano 8 speed equipment.

In his racing heyday, he had his brother Mark for company and competition in most of the major races. “Mark relies on his powerful sprint finish to win and so he is difficult to beat!” he said.

Beneke says the cycling community comes back year after year to enjoy the unique appeal of the coastal race.
“The full road closure is great!” he stresses. “That, and the opportunity to spend a few days at the sea.”

While Beneke is looking forward to celebrating the race’s 25th anniversary at the end of April, he will do so from a distance, as he will be missing the race – a rare blemish on his record at the Durban classic - as he will be away in France attending a wedding.

The aQuellé Tour Durban, presented by Bridge Fund manager, takes place on Sunday 29 April 2018. More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za 

ENDS

 

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aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers Logo  

Gary Beneke in action at the Cape Town Cycle Tour earlier this month. Beneke, who won the inaugural  aQuellé Tour Durban in 1993, has returned to ride almost every subsequent edition of the race. “The full road closure is great!” says Beneke “That, and the opportunity to spend a few days at the sea.”

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Gameplan Media

Gary Beneke winning the inaugural edition of the aQuellé Tour Durban in 1993. “I was relatively familiar with  the route,” he recalls. “The hills and the roads were definitely challenging and undulating,  taking in all the hills of  Umhlanga, Verulam, Tongaat, Umhlali, Salt Rock and Ballito."

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