Monday, March 9, 2009

Drama at the Argus Cycle Race

One of my dearest friends decided she would do the Argus for the first time this year. Unfortunately for her, she never got to finish...
OK – it's not as bad as it sounds. The race was put to a stop and she and the many other struggling wind-swept riders were bussed in to the finish line.
I ventured down to explore the area surrounding the finish line. Surrounding tents and marquees were looking very fragile against the bursts of wind that would suddenly lift up every dress in sight (Of course only Vaalies wear highly ‘blow-up-able’ skirts when Cape Towns black south easter prevails) and get dust into places that would take an hour’s worth of scrubbing to get out.
I felt very sorry for every rider out there on Sunday. News this morning reports that:

Winds of up to 60km/h wreaked havoc at the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour on Sunday, collapsing tents and scaffolding.
A woman broke her arm when the breakfast tent at the start of the race collapsed with her inside.
The start of the race itself was delayed 54 minutes because of the wind, with wind speeds of 40 km/h measured at Chapman's Peak and 60 km/h elsewhere on the route.
Scaffolding erected at the Allan Gray building, near the finish line, collapsed, crushing three cars, but injuring no-one. A tent at the finish line came down too.
Most of the structures erected for the race at the start and finish lines had to be taken down because the wind was so severe.
The Greenpoint stadium construction site, where most of the hospitality tents were erected in sandy ground, became a 'dust bowl' which the fire department had to water down.
In some areas there was such a wind chill factor that cyclists had to be warned not to stop.
While there were a number of casualties, none were serious and most involved broken collarbones, legs and arms.
In one of the nastier incidents, a woman cyclist hit the tar face first in the Perdeberg, breaking both collar bones and sustaining scratches on her face.
Another cyclist's ribs were crushed when he came off down Chapman's Peak. A doctor on a motorcycle immediately attended to him and he was taken to hospital right away.
Although 35 000 cyclists entered this year, only 25 600 started the race.
The cycle tour was won by Arran Brown, of the Medscheme team, in two hours 46 min 32 sec, with Robbie Hunter, of Barloworld, in second place and Nolan Hoffman, of Neotel, third.

Overall the wind was really dreadful, and my friend was very dissapointed not to have finished.. but after more than 6 hours of riding (3 were into head on wind – she even had to paddle down hill), i think there was a mixture of relief there too...
Picture credit: unknown

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