#Capefires make Cycle Tour half the ride it usually is
This year's ride will be a 47km circular route and is being billed as a solidarity ride as Cape Town battles fires across the southern peninsula and elsewhere in the province.
The new route will be from its normal start at the Civic Centre to the end of the M3 and back the same way to a slightly altered finish in Green Point.
Explaining the unprecedented decision, which will affect 35,000 anticipated participants, David Bellairs, a director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, said in a statement that organisers would have to start placing infrastructure on the ground by tomorrow morning.
"It has become clear that the safety of cyclists cannot be guaranteed on Chapman’s Peak and this rules out using this famous landmark for the 2015 event,". he said.
This is largely as a result of the extensive fire which has destroyed vegetation responsible for retaining the mountainside above Chapman’s Peak. Furthermore, he said, the heat has caused rocks to expand making them unstable and in some instances rock falls have occurred.
"With Chapman’s Peak ruled out, our detour option of Ou Kaapse Weg returning to Cape Town via the M3 was considered. A number of key issues needed to be taken into account including access and egress to the South Peninsula by Emergency Services vehicles and local residents who are still under threat of fires raging in the area.
"The soot and ash covering both sides of the road on Ou Kaapse Weg present a considerable health risk to participants and this would be exacerbated by the likelihood of wind.
"The idea of an out and back route via Main Road to Cape Point and back is impractical for an event of this size as road widths in certain areas between Fish Hoek and Muizenberg narrow down to a width of four metres."
Bellairs added there was also a need to reduce the impact the event will have on traffic and other emergency services that are "desperately needed elsewhere in the South Peninsula".
As a result, organisers took the "bold decision" to alter the 2015 race and ask its participants to make the 38th year (formerly the Argus cycle tour and 109km long) the "Show You Care Solidarity Ride".
Said Bellairs: "On Sunday cyclists won't see pristine scenery as they make their way down the shortened route. They should see the smouldering landscape as a source of inspiration and pride because it represents the heroism of the men and women who have - very literally - put their bodies in the line of fire. The ride remains a celebration of Cape Town and this wonderful Peninsula on the southern tip of Africa. The Cape Town Cycle Tour will go on because, as the fighting spirit of the people of Cape Town has demonstrated, nothing can take it away from us – not even fire".