SA cyclists in Europe | SASCOC - SASCOC

SA cyclists in Europe

Top South African professional road cycling team, Bonitas, has begun the first of two six-week racing stints as part of its 2012 European campaign, kicking off with the Volta a Alentejo four-day stage race in Portugal on Thursday.

ÔÇ£It’s a big step for Team Bonitas to be racing in Europe,ÔÇØ said Malcolm Lange of Lange Sports, the company that owns and manages the team.┬á ÔÇ£After three years of local dominance, it’s time for progression. The only way to do this is to compete internationally where the events themselves and the standard of racing is world class.ÔÇØ

The cost of basing the team in Europe for a total of three months is high, but according to Lange, should be rather seen as an investment.

ÔÇ£South Africa will never produce Olympic, World and Tour de France champions by having our professionals compete week in and week out at local 100km races. This European campaign, which is a huge logistical undertaking for Lange Sports, needs to be seen as investing in the future success of South African road cycling. I’d like to thank Bonitas and our other sponsors for sharing this growth vision and supporting us.ÔÇØ

During the first leg of the 2012 European campaign, Team Bonitas will contest five events ÔÇô three stage races and two one-day races. The team begins in Portugal with the Volta a Alentejo from today and until Sunday, before moving to the Volta Santa Maria da Feiro on 30 and 31 March.

The squad then heads to Spain for the Klasika Primavera Amorebieta one-day race on 8 April, followed by the Vuelta a Castilla Leon, a 2.1 International Cycling Union (UCI) graded stage race from 13-15 April, before ending off with the Vuelta a Rioja, another one-day race on 22 April. Both the one-day races in Spain are graded 1.1 by the UCI.

The Volta a Alentejo, which starts on Thursday, has relatively long stages, but with no significant climbs. The event holds a 2.2 UCI grading, essentially a third-tier professional event in terms of points allocation and prize-money. Bonitas joins 19 other professional teams in the event, hailing from Portugal, Spain, Russia, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands.

ÔÇ£It seems this tour in the past has been decided on bonus seconds for stage finishes and sprint primes, so we will be looking after Herman Fouche and Tyler Day, our two sprinters,ÔÇØ explained Bonitas team manager Barry Austin.

ÔÇ£We’ll also be looking for opportunities during each stage to get riders up the road if possible. There are some strong teams here including CCC Polstat, Rabobank Continental and Katusha Continental. The team is fired up, but also a little nervous, which is normal.ÔÇØ

Lining up for Bonitas on Thursday are Day, Fouche, Johann Rabie, Jason Bakke, Hanco Kachelhoffer, Darren Lill, Johann Rabie and Luthando Kaka.

Volta a Alentejo, 22-25 March:
Stage 1: Castelo de VideÔÇôRedondo ÔÇô 165.8km
Stage 2: PortelÔÇôSantiago do Cac├®m ÔÇô 191.3km
Stage 3: OdemiraÔÇôOurique ÔÇô 168.6km
Stage 4: M├®rtolaÔÇôGr├óndola ÔÇô 151km