The Mpumalanga Cycle Tour, South Africa’s biggest stage race, started in earnest on Saturday in Matibiti.

The six-day event is taking the cyclists around Mpumalanga and also showcasing a glimpse of the Limpopo province.

The race started in Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve in Matibiti.

The 2018 episode of the annual event has attracted cyclists from Namibia and Mauritius.

Spain-based Dan Craven of the Namibian National Team wants to see more local cyclists in the tour:

“I really have compliments at the moment for this race, it’s absolutely fantastic. It would have been nicer if there were some more support for the race from the domestic rider because riders we always complain that we don’t have enough races and here is this amazing event with amazing sponsors, the riders need to support it as well.”

The organisers are excited to host the event for the third year running.

Head of Communication DCSR Mpumalanga, Sibongile Nkosi, “We are excited as the Mpumalanga provincial government. This is an annual event we are growing bigger and better. This year we’ve got participants from Mauritius and Namibia and from other provinces.”

Cape Town-born Clint Hendricks of Team BCX won the first stage ahead of Ryan Harris of Office Guru.

Two-time champion, Willie Smith, will not be defending his championship as he is cycling in Europe.

Mpumalanga cycle tour stage one winner, Clint Hendricks says, “With Willie not being here, has made it open for any rider to win it now. It’s not going to be one rider anymore and that will make it interesting. I’m looking forward to tactical racing.”

Thokozani Mahlangu of Pretoria-based team Sampada will be wearing the polka-dot jersey as he is gunning for the King of the Mountain title.

The next stage will see the cyclists climbing this beautiful mountain through the Abel Erasmus road on their way to Mount Sheba in Pilgrim’s Rest.

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