Race Info


  • Start venue Day 1: Nederburg Wine Farm – 30 September 2017 – 8am

  • Finish venue Day 1: La Paris Estate, Franschhoek

  • Start and finish venue Day 2: La Paris Estate, Franschhoek – 1 October 2017 – 8am

  • Distance: 107km

  • Ascent: 2 500m

Race and route information

The inaugural Varsity MTB Challenge surprised everyone. The well-planed route and entertaining race village was a hit with all riders.

“I was blown away by how well organised the event was. Coming from a road racing background, I was really impressed: getting a face cloth when you finished, the shower facilities and the lunch afterwards. And the marshals…I saw more marshals than I do in a road race.” – James Tennant, pro rider for Team Lights by Linea

“It was great to ride a race that was over two days, with a later start time, and although the stages weren’t that short (averaging just over 50km with 1200m of climbing), you came in early and had the whole afternoon to hang around, spend time with your family or braai.” – Craig Kolesky, action photographer

Varsity MTB Challenge has set itself up as a versatile and unique event. Expect challenging routes and the best rider facilities on offer.

The first stage starts at the world famous Nederburg Wine Farm on the foothills of the Drakenstein Mountains below Du Toits Kloof Pass. Following a 4km gravel road climb, which spreads the field nicely; riders tackle a contoured jeep and single track section which keeps them midway on the slopes of the mountain almost all the way to Wellington. The views on this section are without their equal with the towns of Paarl and Wellington clearly visible for the duration from an elevated a bird’s eye view. Turning back the event still stays high up on the mountain and runs through the Buffet Olives farm and through the well-known Cascades singles before crossing the N1 Highway via a pedestrian bridge. From there it’s fast and exciting riding, downhill all the way to the finish at La Paris. On this section riders have a constant elevated view of the exclusive residential estates of Val de Vie and Pearl Valley and the backdrop of the Simonsberg in the distance is something to behold. The stage hugs the Cape Nature servitude road above De Hoop and Durr farms before speeding into the finish at La Paris.
This stage has the most iconic start of any event in South Africa - in front of the Mandela Statue. The first 4km takes place inside the correctional facility. A little known fact is that the Drakenstein Correctional Facility is a working farm with, amongst other elements, cattle, chicken and commercial vegetable growing. After leaving the prison, a gravel and jeep track spread the field before heading towards Simondium. The route veers left towards Franschhoek and turns back towards Paarl at the foothills of Helshoogte to access a wonderful stretch of single track on the well-known Boschendal Wine Estate which runs some way up the Simonsberg before dropping down onto a contoured path which runs almost all the way to Backsberg Estate. The route then turns back towards the Berg River and over the same bridge that took riders out. The last stage has been designed to give experienced mountain bikers a true challenge which will leave them not only out of breath, but also absolutely breathless on various sections because the views are without their equal from the Simonsberg.

Stage 1

  • Distance
  • Start Location
    Nederburg Wine Farm
  • Finish Location
    La Paris


Stage 2

  • Distance
  • Start Location
    La Paris
  • Finish Location
    La Paris

Franschhoek stage 2
There will be a minimum of three water points per race – the number of water points and distance between points is determined in relation to the terrain and presiding weather.