The somewhat refined Bestmed Jock Tour will remain the ultimate test for South Africa’s top road cyclists, organisers vouched this week.

The three-day race, which is based around the town of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, will take place from July 15 to 17.

Wynand de Villiers from ASG Events said the second edition of what is arguably South Africa’s toughest stage race would, apart from a few minor improvements, closely resemble last year’s.

“With most of the Lowveld’s iconic mountain passes included, it is again shaping up to be a massive showdown between the top professionals,” he said.

When they conceptualised the tour as an add-on to the traditional Jock Classique, De Villiers said they wanted to create an “honest test” for the country’s elite riders.

“There is simply nowhere to hide and the strongest rider will win – full stop.”

He said the Cycling SA-sanctioned race, which took riders over 304km and a whopping 7 200m of vertical ascent, was the only local race in which participants were tested according to European standards.

The 27km uphill time-trial between Nelspruit and the mountain town of Kaapsehoop on the opening day would set the tone for the remainder of the event, said De Villiers.

The second stage, a 140km haul from Nelspruit to Nelspruit via White River and Sabie, is largely the same route used by the Classique, which takes place on the same day.

De Villiers said the major climbing tests on this stage were Spitskop (5km at 12%) and Long Tom Pass (12km at 10%).

The final day featured the most climbing with riders ascending 3 100m on the tough 138km round trip via Kaapmuiden and Barberton, he said.

“Although it includes the Boulders (12km at 14%) and Hill Top (5km at 10%) climbs, don’t discount the stretch between Kaapmuiden and Barberton which is steady uphill for about 40km.”

De Villiers said an attractive addition this year was lunch after stages two and three at the Mbombela Stadium.

“We are creating a nice atmosphere in the race village as we did with the Jock’s sister event, the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope.”

The Jock Tour, which is limited to a field of 500, caters for amateurs and pros across all age categories.

Riders who have already entered the Classique and would like to upscale to a discounted tour entry, can do so on www.asgevents.co.za.