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Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau donned his City of Joburg-branded cycling gear, saddled up and joined 35 000 cyclists and fitness fanatics who took part in the 18th edition of the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge on Sunday 16 November.

Thousands of spectators – including celebrities and local sports stars such as former Proteas’ captain, Graeme Smith – lined the route, eagerly cheering on and encouraging the cyclists as they raced past.

The challenge, which started in 1997, is Johannesburg’s toughest race and the second-largest mass-participation time cycling event in the world, attracting thousands of both local and international cyclists each year. This year the race followed a slightly altered route, which started and finished at the Riversands Commercial Park in Midrand.

The winner of this year’s elite men’s race was Til Drobisch of Namibia. The women’s version was clinched by Marianne Vos of the Netherlands.

Drobisch crossed the finish line in 2:21:54, whereas Vos, a three-time UCI Road Champion and a gold medallist at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012, completed the challenge in 2:40:02.

Second and third places in both the men’s and women’s races were won by South Africans. The second place in the men’s race went to Reynard Butler in 2:21:55 and the third to Herman Fouche in 2:21:56. In the women’s race, Ashley Moolman Pasio came second (2:43:53), followed by Cherise Stander.

Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the day’s proceedings went well, with “no serious incidents” reported. The JMPD had deployed 400 officers and 80 pointsmen to control the traffic and man road closures along Jan Smuts Avenue, the M1 freeway and along the R511.

Race Director, Tanya Harford said the race was “orderly and organised”, despite a few delays in starting times due to the early morning traffic congestion. She added that in future the R511 would become a dual carriageway in one direction on race day. “We will improve on the traffic issues for next year. It’s been a lesson learnt,” she said.

The Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge speaks directly to the City’s Healthy Lifestyle Programme, which encourages residents to engage in physical activity such as cycling, running or walking to keep chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart ailments at bay to enhance Johannesburg’s life expectancy. To this end, the City is investing millions of rands in cycling infrastructure, which will also form an integral part of the Corridors of Freedom, a new spatial vision that will see people working, living and playing in the same neighbourhood.

Last month, the City unveiled a R15 million dedicated cycling track between Orlando East in Soweto and Noordgesig not only to improve the residents’ quality of life but also to reduce the effects greenhouse gas emissions.