Tour attracts 600 riders

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The second edition of the Tour de Tuli-Mapungubwe 2010 cycling competition that gets underway on August 5 has attracted a record 617 riders from across the world.
The event, running under the theme ‘Using Adventure to build a better tomorrow’ was launched by the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Francis Nhema on Wednesday night.
The event will traverse three countries — Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa and three national parks —Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Tuli Circle Safari Area and Mapungubwe National Park —cutting through an area west of Beitbridge and through the Maramani communal lands and Sentinel Ranch.
Last year, the event attracted 300 sponsored cyclists from 14 countries, mainly from South Africa and nationals from Europe and America. This year, South Africa will dominate as their riders increased from 240 last year to 539 this year.
Britain will bring in 27 riders, the US 15, Zimbabwe will have six, Australia and Botswana five each, Malawi eight, Slovakia, Namibia, Canada and Germany will have two each and three cyclists will come from Fifa 2010 World Cup finalists, the Netherlands.
Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Seychelles, World Cup finalists Spain and Switzerland have confirmed one cyclist each.
Because of the increase in the number of participants, Nhema said this year’s event would be divided into two batches of about 300 cyclists each.
The first batch will enter Zimbabwe through the Tuli Circle Safari Area on August 5 while the second group follows the next day. Both groups will spend the first night at a campsite near Fort Tuli before proceeding the following morning through Maramani to Sentinel for their second night stop over.
On their final days, August 7 and 8, each group will cycle in Sentinel Ranch before crossing the Limpopo River to Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa.
“We have engaged the organisers with a view of ensuring that we not only have a long lasting relationship but one in which all stakeholders mutually benefit, particularly our local communities.
“To this end, locally available goods and services, such as food and beverages and hiring of tents and labour would be used as much as possible to promote local businesses. We are expecting a donation of 600 lap desks for our rural school children and some conservation education camps to be organised for them,” said Nhema.