The cyclists and their support team will pass a number of World Heritage sites on their way to the start of the ride as well as on the ride itself. The first of these will be the VREDEFORT IMPACT CRATER on the provincial border between the Free State and Gauteng.
There are approximately 190 major meteor craters on Earth and the Vredefort Crater has the distinction of being the largest! Scientists have determined that an asteroid (as big as Table Mountain) crashed into the Earth at a speed of 36 000 km/h (20 km per second!) and formed a crater 17 km deep and 300 km in diameter. This is believed to have been the biggest energy-release event (explosion) in the history of the Earth. This event occurred 2 billion years ago - before life as we know it existed on Earth.
A similar impact event off the Mexican coast at Yucatan 66 million years ago is the probable cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The Vredefort crater is best seen from Space - a NASA photo appears below