Tour loss keenly felt | SASCOC - SASCOC

Tour loss keenly felt

By Mark Etheridge

Three key role players in South African cycling have lamented the loss of the Tour of South Africa event.

Cycling South Africa announced last week that after a successful first edition of the Tour last year, the event had to be cancelled due to “various critical milestones have not been achieved ÔÇô the unavailability of sufficient financial funding being one of the most important criteria.”

One of those saddened by the demise of the tour was Johann Rabie, who ended second overall last year. “I also tied on points for the points jersey and won the First African jersey competition,” the Commonwealth Games cyclist told Road to London 2012 this week.

“It’s very disappointing for me and also that there is no Giro Del Capo anymore. We need more tours in SA cycling ÔÇô at least four proper tours a year. Tours like the Tour of South Africa were a great opportunity to showcase our sponsors on SA television,” said Rabie.

Joining Rabie in rueing the loss of the tour was Doug Ryder, team principal with top outfit┬á MTN-Qhubeka. “This is a sad day ÔÇô especially since I believe Cell C were keen to sponsor next year. South Africa is in dire need for a national stage race event as it elevates the sport in South Africa as well as the riders and South African sponsored teams to the local cyclists and to the world. Very disappointing for me is that Primedia Sport gave a commitment a year ago that irrespective of sponsorship they would underwrite the race so what has happened to that commitment?

“My view is that if they could not fund an eight-day stage race then why not reduce the days to a five-day event but keep the event on?”

Final word went to Barry Austin, road cycling manager for Cycling SA and a man who was with our cyclists who did so well at last week’s African Continental Road Championships in Eritrea. “It’s a great pity to lose the tour. We are competing for Africa Tour points and are in desperate need of UCI racing days back home to score those points. Countries like Morocco have up to 19 UCI racing days per year! Next year we have noneÔǪ.

“Let’s hope we find what the problem was, address it and go forward.”