With 80km/h winds sweeping through the Foreshore, organisers were preparing for the worst. Banners and scaffolding were being dismantled at the starting line, with fears that they might be blown down, and paramedics waited at their radios ready to respond to a major pile-up.
But despite the shaky start and ominous weather, this year’s Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour was described as one of the “quietest” in the event’s history by the tour’s medical team.
“All in all it was a relatively light tour from our perspective,” said Basil Bonner, specialist emergency physician for Mediclinic and the Cycle Tour’s official race doctor.
Medics attended to just over 240 riders, 79 of whom were taken to hospital for X-rays or to stitch up cuts. Bonner said this was around half the number of incidents of last year’s event.
In the context of a record turnout, which saw 34 500 of the 35 000 registered entrants taking part in the event, Cycle Tour Trust director David Bellairs said the relatively low number of incidents was “even more incredible”.
“What we found was that the wind was making people start more nervously. They were being a lot more cautious and thinking about their safety.”
The most serious injury of the day was a broken hip bone. A woman was also airlifted from just outside Cape Point after falling from her bike, knocking her head and and losing consciousness.
A man was admitted to hospital after he had chest pains while driving home from the race.
Bonner said most patients were recovering quickly.
“We had 31 patients stay in hospital overnight, but by (yesterday) lunch time more of that number had already been discharged.”
Other patients were treated for minor injuries, such as bruises, cuts and grazes sustained after they were involved in crashes that took place along the route.
Most of the pile-ups happened on the Blue Route where heavy winds threatened to blow riders off their bikes. There were also two pile-ups on Hospital Bend and three on the M3.
“All in all it went very smoothly,” said Bellairs. “It’s great when it rolls off the way that it did.”
He said the Cycle Tour would stick to the route popularised by the 2013 and 2014 events. Last year, the often-reviled Boyes Drive had made way for the flatter Main Road in Muizenberg.
“It works extremely well, it’s a good route to ride and there is decent access for everyone, including support staff.”
Bellairs said he would be visiting the remaining injured cyclists in hospital. [email protected] - Cape Argus