The history of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour stems back over 36 years, and while it is now the largest timed cycle race in the world, it started off very differently back in 1977…
Originally called the ‘Peninsula Marathon’, the cycle tour was organised by Bill Mylrea and John Stegmann back in 1977 to draw attention to the need for cycle paths in the Cape Town area.
This first tour attracted hundreds of cyclists, and it didn’t take long for Cape Town’s largest newspaper – The Argus, to become the official sponsor of the tour, renamed the ‘Argus Cycle Tour’ in 1978.
By 1980, the Argus Cycle Tour was advertised as “the biggest cycle race in the Southern Hemisphere” with over 1300 entries.
In 1982 Coca-Cola were to become the official soft drink provider for the event.
On the 10th Anniversary of the cycle tour in 1987, entries reached almost 5934, but only 4761 finished due to strong winds and heavy rains.
Just two years later in 1989, entries shot up to 12,802, despite being limited to 12,000!
In 1991 South African supermarket chain Pick ‘n Pay came onboard as a sponsor, and the event became known as the Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour.
By 1994, entries had jumped over the 20,000 mark, with 400 non South African entrants taking part in the event.
The 20th Anniversary of the cycle tour saw over 30,000 entrants, and as the Argus Newspaper changed its name to the ‘Cape Argus’, the event was renamed the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour.
For the first time ever, the tour had to be stopped in 2002 due to extreme temperatures of 42° degrees. Despite consuming over 230,000 litres of beverages, cyclists faced heat stroke and heat-related injuries.
In 2010, the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour became known as “The Tour de Lance”, with Lance Armstrong taking part. Unfortunately, he didn’t win or break any records, but Argus veteran Japie Malan retained his record of being the oldest man to finish – at 90 years old!
2013 was my first Cape Argus Cycle Tour, and 2014 will be my second….
Read the full history of the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour on the official website: http://www.cycletour.co.za