ALBERTON – The Tour de France in July, arguably the biggest individual sport event and biggest cycle race in the world, brought back memories of the day and year when the biggest cycle race at that time in the country, Rapport Tour 1978, went through Alberton.
Who will ever forget that memorable day in the autumn of 1978, when the top SA cyclists such as Robbie McIntosh, Alan van Heerden, Ertjies Bezuidenhout and four world countries such as Portugal and Italy converged on Alberton in Voortrekker Road from Springs, past Leondale and the then Newmarket race course to finish the 54.33 km penultimate leg from Springs to Alberton. From Alberton the final stretch of 33 km to the finishing line in Johannesburg after 1 917 km, was all that was then left of the 1978 Rapport Tour. Alberton was part of the climax of the official tour.
In the programme issued in Alberton on that autumn Saturday back in 1978, the then Minister of Sport and Recreation, Dr. Piet Koornhof, MP of the neighbouring Germiston constituency of Primrose, wrote the following message: ”To the organisers and officials, you have responded magnificently to the challenge to offer South African sport something that can compare with the best of the world, and this tour is no exception.” Alberton was part and parcel of that historic unique sport occasion, when Alberton people lined up in Voortrekker Road to see world sport right here in Alberton in the days of sport isolation.
Some sport people in Alberton who were never interested in cycling at the time, were since that day hooked to cycle races on television and can’t wait to watch the Tour de France every year in June-July.
*Article by Peet van Niekerk, who was there as a young spectator 36 years ago in 1978.