The challenges included gale-force winds, fire swept areas and anticipated protests along the route. Prior to the start of the day's racing, organisers decided to shorten the race to 78km in an attempt to address some of the challenges.
At least four of leading groups managed to start but were stopped in the Steenberg area on the M3 highway after the decision was made to cancel the race. The cyclists returned to Cape Town.
At a press conference in central Cape Town on Sunday morning, the organisers issued this statement:
It is with great regret that at 06h38 on Sunday morning, we were forced to make the difficult decision to stop the 40th edition of the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Sunday morning presented a number of challenges, not least of which were wind speeds considerably higher than predicted on Saturday.
This, combined with a large fire that broke out in Hout Bay in the early hours of Sunday morning, and the added risk of protest action en route, were all contributing factors to the decision made in our Joint Operation Centre (JOC) by the VOC Commander to stop the event.
Our priority first and foremost will always be the safety of all our participants and the risk of injury and potential fatality at the start, at the finish and on Chapman’s Peak warranted this extremely difficult decision.
Furthermore, we only made the decision after endeavouring to mitigate all risks to keep the event open. The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust wishes to extend its immense gratitude and thanks to the City of Cape Town and all those services involved at our JOC in Tygerberg.
This includes Disaster Management Services, the Events Office of the City of Cape Town, Fire and Safety, Traffic Authorities and Metro Police as well as our medical services, Mediclinic, the Provincial EMS and South African Police Services. These relationships have been developed over many years and it is in times of crisis that the measure of these relationships are truly tested.
I would particularly like to single out the Executive Director of Safety and Security, Mr Richard Bosman as well as the Executive Mayor’s office for the tremendous support under these trying circumstances. To all our sponsors, who have backed our decision 100%, our eternal gratitude for your understanding and support.
Lastly, to the participants who have invested time, effort and resources in getting to the start line, our heartfelt thanks – ultimately this decision was made in the interests of your safety. To the Rotary Clubs and volunteers who have been standing on the route in difficult conditions, we appreciate your tireless effort and sacrifice.
We are humbled by the outpouring of offers to assist and donate food, product and resources to those in need as a result of us stopping this Cycle Tour. We are in the process of co-ordinating efforts to ensure that goods reach those in need in the fire-affected areas in Hout Bay. We encourage the public wishing to donate to please contact Thula Thula in Hout Bay to donate non-perishable goods.
The Mayor of Hout Bay has opened the Hout Bay Sports Centre in readiness to receive perishable goods for immediate distribution into the community.African News Agency