The 2023 UCI Gravel World Series will make its first stop in South Africa next year on 29 April at the Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo – Africa’s premier 171km gravel race.

Starting in Prince Albert, the mixed surface route includes asphalt and gravel dirt, with the gravel segments totaling 79km. Riders will wind up steep mountain passes, over grueling gravel roads, and race down butt clenching descents. Founder John Swanepoel describes the Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo as, “Arguably one of the toughest Gran Fondo’s in the world.”

Participants best pace themselves if they are to have anything left for the route’s main gravel attraction, Swartberg Pass at 28km in length with 745 vertical meters gained. The formidable climb starts 120km into the race and includes bits of 16% gradient, with the last 3km averaging 12%. After summiting it is a 21km scary downhill drag race on loose gravel back to the finish in Prince Albert.

The winning time last year was a super fast 5:42:18 by Dusty Day, but many riders are just happy to finish before the 10 hour time limit – and then enjoy a beer or three.

Participants who finish in the top 25% of their age/gender category will automatically qualify to attend the UCI Gravel World Championships taking place in Italy next October.

Photos: Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo