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Tankwa Tough: 10th Edition Expected to be the Hardest Yet

The tenth edition of the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, is set to take place in February 2023. The four-day UCI S1 grade stage race takes in some of South Africa’s best riding, as it winds through the Koue Bokkeveld region of the Western Cape. Famed for technical singletrack, the massive Merino Monster climb, a stellar racing field and the warm hospitality of the local community it truly is a ride like no other.

Nino Schurter headlined a stellar elite field at the 2022 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen. Photo by Shift Media Co.

In 2022 the event attracted a world-class international field; headlined by nine-time cross-country World Champion, Nino Schurter. Schurter and his Swiss teammate for the event, Filippo Colombo emerged victorious over Matt Beers and Tristan Nortje, in a competitive pre-Cape Epic tussle. Positioned six weeks out from mountain biking’s most famous stage race the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, is the perfect tune-up event for elite and amateur riders alike. Alternatively, it serves as a significant stand-alone challenge, especially as next year’s route will be tougher than ever.

The highly competitive nature of the event, for elite and amateur riders alike, make it one of South Africa’s most popular mountain bike stage races. Photo by Shift Media Co.

A great part of the allure of the event is the spectacular Kaleo race village and clover leaf format. All four stages start and finish at the same venue, which outside of mountain bike races serves as a rural wedding venue. Due to the remoteness of Kaleo Guest Farm most riders chose to stay onsite, which is ideal; thanks to the lush lawns upon which the event tents are pitched, under old growth oak trees. Entrants can also choose to upgrade from the standard tent to luxury canvas dome tents; complete with a bed, bedding and power points in each shared tent.

“We are focusing, for next year, on improving the quality of the event across the board and increasing the difficulty of the route,” said Henco Rademeyer, of the race organisers Dryland Event Management. “Over the last decade we have got many of the big things right; like creating a challenging but rewarding route, providing delicious meals, and putting the rider experience first. But there is always room for improvement! We’ll be fine tuning a number of things for 2023 to keep improving the experience for the event entrants and to enhance the racing.”

The iconic Merino Monster climb will remain a cornerstone of the route in 2023 and beyond. Sebastian Fini and Ila Short hold the respective KOM and QOM titles on the 7.8km long 8.8% average gradient climb. Photo by Justin Reinecke for www.zcmc.co.za.

“Together with our sponsors, including the title and presenting sponsors Momentum Medical Scheme and Biogen in particular, and the landowners Dryland Event Management have exciting plans for the tenth edition,” Rademeyer continued. “First and foremost, is the plan to continue to refine the route. Iconic features like the Witzenberg Valley singletracks and Merino Monster climb are staples of the race. Mountain biking has developed significantly since the event’s inception, bikes and riders have become better. The Koue Bokkeveld provides the canvas to increase the route difficulty, with more singletrack kilometres and more technical trails. Our local trail guru, Ernst van Dyk, along with the Hanekom brothers and Mauritz Walters have some exciting developments up their sleeves. Which we’ll be sharing with the mountain biking community at the 2023 Route Launch on the 31st of August this year.”

“We firmly believe that a more challenging route will lead to more exciting racing” Rademeyer pointed out. “For the elite men and women; as well as the competitive mixed, veteran and masters’ teams the increased technicality of the route will provide more opportunities to distance their rivals. While for the amateur riders the route will provide a greater challenge, demanding committed training and work on their singletrack racing skills.”

The Witzenberg Valley, one of South Africa’s best loved singletrack destinations, provides the proving ground for Stage 2 of the race. Photo by Shift Media Co.

“Entries to the 2023 race have been open for a week but already the majority of the upgrade options are selling out,” warned Rademeyer. “Teams wishing to take part in the tenth edition will thus have to move quickly to secure their spots for what is going to be the toughest but most rewarding Tankwa yet.”

With entries limited, 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, riders are encouraged to confirm their participation as soon as possible. The event also boasts the added incentive of an early-bird entry special, until the 1st of October. To secure a spot visit www.tankwatrek.co.za.

With its media coverage, UCI S1 statues and significant prize purse the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, has garnered a strong reputation among elite mountain bikers. Photo by Shift Media Co.
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