Richard Branson signs up for Cycle Tour

Brad Morgan

26 February 2013

Global entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has announced his participation in this year's edition of South Africa's ultra-scenic Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, which takes place on 10 March. The Virgin Group founder will also host a fun ride on 9 March to raise funds for charity.

Branson will be joined by former South African swimming star Ryk Neethling and four-time Absa Cape Epic champion Karl Platt, among others, in support of Virgin Unite and the JAG Foundation.


Virgin Unite's key South African project is The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, which supports and encourages bold, tenacious entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses to create jobs.

The JAG Foundation was established with the aim of keeping children off the streets and providing them with alternative lifestyles, using sport as a catalyst through which to educate them and provide them with life skills.

The fun ride will take place between 08:30 and 14:00 and the venue will be the Arabella Hotel and Spa in Kleinmond.

Tickets cost R15 000 and include a social cycle followed by a relaxed lunch and mingle with Branson and cycling and sporting heroes, a Virgin Active cycling jersey and gift pack, and a personalised, hard-cover photo-book memento of the day.

The Cycle Tour

Due to a very busy schedule, Branson has been restricted to indoor training, but he's excited about the picturesque 109 kilometre Cycle Tour.

In an interview with IOL, he answered the question of why he had chosen to do the event with typical optimism: "Why? Why Not? Life is a helluva lot more fun if you say yes, rather than no."

Branson will be joined on the Cycle Tour by his son-in-law Freddie Andrews, Virgin Group CEO Josh Bayliss and Virgan Active South Africa staff members.

Crowd support

"I'm looking forward to hearing the roar of the crowd and really giving them something to cheer about," he told IOL. "While it is my first time taking part in the Cycle Tour, I have experienced the London Marathon and Triathlon, where the crowds really drag you around the course with their support."

Managing director of Virgin Active SA Ross Faragher-Thomas said in a statement: "We are delighted that Richard is riding the race this year to join a large contingent of our staff and a significant number of entrants who are Virgin Active members. We can't think of a better way to endorse our support of this fantastic race."

Record breaker

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Branson, a young-at-heart 62-year-old, owns a number of world records, including the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by hot air balloon. After a failed attempt at an Atlantic record crossing by boat in 1985, he returned a year later to claim the record in Virgin Atlantic Challenger II.

In 1991, he set a hot air balloon record for a crossing of the Pacific from Japan to Canada, covering the 10 800 kilometres at an average speed of 394 km/h.

In 2004, Branson set a record for a crossing of the English Channel between Dover and Calais in an amphibious vehicle.

He has attempted a number of other ambitious records on air and in water, including an around the world hot air balloon journey that came up short, but did include a record-breaking flight from Morocco to Hawaii.

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Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson meets President Jacob Zuma to discuss a collaboration between Virgin Unite and the South African government, Pretoria, 22 June 2009 (Photo: The Presidency)

South Africa's Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour sees over 35 000 cyclists tackling a 109km route around Cape Town that is as spectacular as it is gruelling (Photo copyright South African Tourism)

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