FRIDAY 13 APRIL
ZORGVLIET ESTATE (STELLENBOSCH), TO LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL
Distance: 58km; Total ascent: 1550m
The first stage incorporates some world famous trails, including the Banhoek Trails, the impressive single track at Boschendal Estate, the equally legendary Skyfall single track on Bartiney Estate on Helshoogte and a purposely built single track around the Bergriver Dam.
Overall the vertical ascent on the stage has come down significantly over the past three years mainly courtesy of some wonderful new route access the event has received over the prestigious L’Ormirans Estate along with slicing out the Botmaskop climb from Stellenbosch.
Boschendal, one of the largest Wine Farms in the world, recently completed a wonderful array of delightfully flowing single track. The Encounter doesn’t access the intimidating Boschendal single track high up on the Simonsberg, instead we remain lower down and include the Inferno and Sugar bowl sections which are lightning fast and non-technical.
After exiting Boschendal on the Drakenstein Mountain Range side, the route will enter the L’Ormirans Wine Farm, home of the world famous Franschhoek Motor Museum for some well earned free voyager miles on the beautifully sculpted farm roads on the farm (numerous of which are even paved!).
Instead of going high up towards the impressive Drakenstein Mountain on L’Ormirans the event will remain lower down just above the motor museum on the escarpment, which will make this section nice and quick compared to last year.
The final single track section comes around the Bergriver Dam before the final undulation towards the finish line at Le Franschhoek Hotel.
SATURDAY 14 APRIL
LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL TO LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL
Distance: 47km; Total ascent: 1100m
The stage starts off with a downhill into the village of Franschhoek. The stage goes through the centre of town to showcase this beautiful settlement in all its splendour before heading into gravel roads and onto the Roberts Vlei Road.
The stage circumvents the entire Berg River Dam on delightful single track and jeep track. At the back end it goes into the heart of the Drakenstein Mountain range behind the dam into some incredible flowing single track. This new 12km section, which has never been used before, will blow your mind!
From the dam it’s a short uphill drag – this time on tar – to finish at Le Franschhoek Hotel
SUNDAY 15 APRIL
LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL TO NEDERBURG (PAARL)
Distance 55km; Total ascent: 1400m
This stage includes most of the mountain ranges of the Winelands, including Drakenstein, Du Toitskloof and Hawekwa mountains. The start of the stage is flat and presents quick riding all the way to the Drakenstein Correctional Facility.
It crosses the road into La Paris Estate and then contours the mountain past some famous farms such as Freedom Hill and Avondal. It’s a slight rise all the way to the N1 where the stages passes underneath the carriage way and then into the Hawequa Forrest.
The stage ends with a sting in the tail with the major climb of the day starting at the N1 inderpass on jeep track, gravel road and some beautifully cut single track and takes the riders up to Hawekwa Plantation.
From here, there are breathtaking views of the Winelands and all the way to the Swartland, followed by exhilarating downhill riding to the finish at Nederburg.
The stage includes a trip through the Drakenstein Prison. In the prison, formerly known as Victor Verster, the event will pass by the famous statue of Nelson Mandela which was erected following his release from the prison in the early nineties, and riders will also pass by the house in which he was held captive during the latter years of his incarceration.
Supposed to be a fun day, but definitely not without some proper climbing.
The Route Profiles