Legs will do the talking at MTN Panorama Tour

2008 MTN Panorama TourCycling website forums have been abuzz recently as nine-to-five office-bound cyclists struggle to focus on work and begin their pre-race banter ahead of the 2008 MTN Panorama Tour, which starts in White River, Mpumalanga on Saturday and runs until Tuesday.

Rated the top road cycling race in South Africa last year on Bicycling magazine’s race rating system, the four-day event has attracted a diverse field of cyclists from across the country, all eager to conquer the scenic challenge which includes 339km of total distance and 6126 metres of total ascent.

It’s the metres of ascent that’s the most popular topic of discussion and rightfully so, as the stage profiles are enough to strike fear into even the most conditioned cyclists. The big Mpumalanga climbs and descents will offer fantastic scenery as consolation for the suffering the riders will endure.

The fact that no registered professional road cycling teams may enter the event is one of the Panorama Tour’s unique factors, resulting in a battle for podium places between, well, cyclists that aren’t accustomed to podium place battles. The other unique element is the format of the tour, where participants ride as two-person teams. This adds a new twist to racing tactics, but more importantly gives the race its camaraderie, which is ultimately what makes it one this country’s favourite cycle races.

There are seven sub-categories: Open men, Open women, Mixed, Sub-veteran, Veteran, Master and Open tandem. Teams likely to feature in the battle for the top overall positions include: Cycle Lab Toyota (Andrew McLean and Graham Cronje), Dunkeld Cycles (Merlin Jackson and Donovan Jackson), Daikin Gu (John O’ Conner and Moolman Welgemoed), Daikin Gu 2 (David Garret and Chris Botha) and Cycle Lab Brothers (Johan Labuschagne and David Labuschagne).