Two days after Irish rock group U2 belted out one of their famous hits, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and Sunday became a day to be remembered for a lot of swearing as the wheels came off in cycling’s long awaited Cell C Tour of South Africa.
That’s after Sunday’s 173-kilometre second stage had to be called off after chaotic traffic conditions in Johannesburg.
When the route for the inaugural tour was announced there were some raised eyebrows at the wisdom of taking a bunch of hard-racing cyclists through Soweto on a Sunday morning.
But it wasn’t Soweto that was the problem but surprisingly the more affluent surroundings of the northern suburbs, Sandton in this case, that caused the chaos.
Traffic and race officials initially struggled with traffic in Dobsonville and Soweto but that was nothing compared to normally peaceful Sandton where marshals said their lives were being endangered as motorists blatantly disregarded instructions and rode over pavements to continue their journey in the face of cyclists.
Twice the race came to a standstill as organisers regrouped the field but the next time it happened it was a case of third time unlucky and the stage was declared null and void and the cyclists were forced to return to the relative sanity of Montecasino.
Monday is a rest day for the tour as teams fly to Port Elizabeth for Tuesday’s 173km stage between Nelson Mandela Bay to Summerstrand. Hopefully the coastal city will show up the nation’s biggest city when it comes to respecting the rules of the road.
Wearing the leader’s jersey will be Rapha Condor Sharp’s Kristian House, after the English rider won Saturday’s opening stage.