Coffee Stop

World Funride Champions Cape Argus

Wednesday 30 March 2011

Words by Tim Brink
Photos by Richard Gorman

To locals, the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour is affectionately known as the World Funride Champs. For those not familiar with it, the event is a 110km road race, the biggest timed one in the world, where each of the 35 000-plus annual entrants is timed, and gets a certificate reflecting their time and position. To say it is big is an understatement - for a week or so the coastal city of Cape Town becomes a bicycle mecca. And not just for us amateurs. The sharp end of the race has attracted the likes of Vinokourov, Davis and Ullrich in the past, and the more social side can boast previous participations from Fignon (RIP), Lemond, Merckx, Indurain and more. Oops, almost forgot, even Lance made it last year.

L-R - Stephen Roche, Sven Thiele and Gerard Vroomen

But today (the Friday before the Big Day, 2011), we had a ride with a difference - a couple of strategic tweets from the folks at HotChillee - who put on the brilliant London-Paris event each year - and there we were, spinning up the exquisite Chapman's Peak Drive (think the Riviera, or Monterey, but prettier) with 1987 TDF, Giro and World Champion Stephen Roche, our guest of honour for this breakfast ride. Such is this Twitter power, that a second illustrious guest joined the fray, in the shape of '88 World Champ Maurizio Fondriest. Cervelo founder Gerard Vroomen was there, trying his best to acclimatize to the blistering 25-degree temperatures, a vast improvement on his rides last week in Switzerland, as were a couple of the HotChillee folk, and some of the Atlantic Seaboard's coolest amateurs.

'88 World Champion Maurizio Frondriest and '87 World Champion (and Tour and Giro winner!) Stephen Roche

Impressively, everybody behaved impeccably, with the pace gentle and chatty for the full 60km, before breakfast at Camps Bay's Sandbar intervened, and carboloading for Sunday began in earnest.

Heartening news for the 34 998 non-former-world-champions riding the event, is that we are not alone... Roche, as we pedalled up past Dario's Cafe, in Hout Bay, and were confronted with the small rise through the village that precedes the brutal Suikerbossie ascent that provide Sunday's final challenge, looked up and, in that distinctive Irish brogue, admitted "I hate this climb. It isn't even a climb, it is just an irritating piece of road." World Champions are human. I can't wait to see who pitches for next year's Friday Ride of Champions.

Stephen Roche with Miguel Indurain