The 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, will feature more singletrack, challenging climbs and riotous riding. In total the four days of the UCI Class 1 stage race will take in 270 kilometres, along with 5 320 metres of climbing. These basic facts do not account for the difficulty presented by the terrain and the weather, however.
Rocky outcrops jut from the Koue Bokkeveld landscape where verdant orchards abut sparsely vegetated mountainsides. Sandstone cliffs and shelves reflect the harsh African sun, intensifying the heat and providing natural arches to ride through as well as drop-offs to race down. These and the existing trails are coupled with an ever-increasing network of singletracks on the farm around Kaleo, where the race village is situated. All told the combination ensures that the 2023 race will be the best yet, which is fitting for the tenth edition.
“The 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, is set to be the most challenging in a number of years,” Henco Rademeyer, of Dryland Event Management confirmed. “But not unnecessarily tough. The classic challenges like the singletracks of the Witzenberg Valley and the Merino Monster climb remain, while we’ve added more trail to Stages 1 and 4 too. On paper the first and last days of the race might not seem that much harder, but the rugged terrain they take in will certainly add to the overall difficulty of the race.”
“Stage 1 remains just under 30 kilometres in length and takes place on the afternoon of Thursday, 9 February,” Rademeyer confirmed. “It will feature even more great singletrack than ever before, but will also boast a couple of early climbs to split the field. The teams will once again be seeded for Stage 1, but we’ll be making use of smaller batch starts to ensure everyone is able to race the stage as quickly as they are callable to provide them with access to the correct start group for Stage 2.”
Day 2 then takes riders into the fabled Witzenberg Valley, where the trails built by Hannes and Sakkie Hanekom await. “We’ll be returning to the traditional anti-clockwise circumnavigation of the Witzenberg Valley,” Sakkie Hanekom confirmed. “But we are adding a few new features, including a spectacular downhill section through a sandstone arch. We’re also moving the water points around a bit, to create a spectator point at Waterpoint 3, which will now be located at SIP Café.”
“Look there’s no way around the Monster,” Route Director, Ernst van Dyk smiled knowingly. “Stage 3 will once again feature the most infamous climb in South African mountain biking, the Merino Monster. The Queen Stage of the race will circle the highest peak in the range, keeping the summit in view for much of the day. While the ascent doesn’t get any easier, the descent is smoothed out every year and that should make for a faster run back to Kaleo after conquering the climb.”
The final stage then takes in much of Van Dyk’s existing Kaleo Mountain Bike Trails in a punchy conclusion to the four days of racing. “Stage 4 might only be 55 kilometres long but it features 45 kilometres of singletrack,” Van Dyk promised. “It starts with nearly 10 kilometres of jeep track to spread the bunches and then it’s singletrack all the way, with just a few quick dual track or district road liaisons. For the elite racers, it’ll be a fast and furious affair, while for the amateurs it’ll cap a memorable long weekend of mountain biking with a challenging but exciting route.”
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