A total of 328 cyclists from 17 countries around the globe are set to grace the third edition of the 2011 Tour de Tuli Mapungubwe cycling competition that gets underway on August 4.
The annual mountain bike event, which traverses through the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), was launched by the Environment and Natural Resources Management minister Francis Nhema at an event hosted in the capital yesterday.
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 600 sponsored cyclists from 14 countries, mainly from South Africa and nationals from Europe and America.
This year, South Africa would dominate as their riders have increased from 240 last year to 539 this year.
South Africa would have the highest number of participants with 260 cyclists having confirmed participation, while Britain will bring in 23 riders and the US 10. Zimbabwe has one cyclist taking part.
Australia will have 13 riders, while Botswana has two cyclists, Malawi eight, Germany two; Italy, Singapore, Seychelles, Norway, New Zealand, Israel, Greece, Angola and Israel will also send cyclists.
This year’s route will traverse two protected areas namely Northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana and Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa before coming to Zimbabwe from August 6-8 in the west of Beitbridge, through Maramani Communal Lands, Sentinel Ranch and Nottingham Estate.
Nhema said the event created opportunities for the cyclists to sample what the TFCA had to offer as a tourist destination.
“This is an adventure expedition which takes cyclists through the wilderness areas and thus allows the participants to have first hand encounters with African wildlife.
“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. This year’s organisers have committed over $1 000 for a community development project,” said Nhema.