There’s no denying what Exxaro Resources has done for mountain biking in South Africa, particularly when it comes to giving previously disadvantaged South African riders a platform on which to compete. First introduced at the Cape Epic in 2012, the Exxaro special jersey competition is open to historically disadvantaged South Africans underthe age of 26. It aims to nurture, develop and transform mountain biking in the country by giving participants an opportunity to test themselves against the best in the business as well as themselves.
“The introduction of the Exxaro special jersey for this year’s FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz event adds another bicycle development initiative to our portfolio and represents a progressive step for the race as a whole,” says Johan Kriegler, FNB W2W race founder. “Not only will it continue to develop and help in transforming the sport around the Western Cape and country as a whole, it will introduce the next wave of role models for the younger generation.”
Several success stories have stemmed from similar initiatives over the years. William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona are two such examples, both of whom have benefitted from the Exxaro special jersey race and the subsequent media exposure. This year’s Cape Epic Exxaro special jersey winners, Lucky Mlangeni and Tshepo Tlou, will be hoping to continue their impressive run of form when they take on the FNB W2W Shiraz race in November.
“We feel so excited and it is an amazing journey for us. After winning the Exxaro jersey at the Cape Epic we started to prepare by doing indoor training every day,” said Tshepo Tlou. “Our chances of winning the FNB W2W Exxaro jersey are good because we gained a lot of racing experience in March. It’s a very awesome moment for us as not everyone gets this type of opportunity and we will take it with both hands. A special thank you has to go to Exxaro – they have backed us since we started with them.”
To spice up the level of racing in the Exxaro special jersey competition even further, a prize will be allocated to the Exxaro team with the fastest combined time over all three stages.
“We are very excited about this development and it gives us the opportunity to test our Academy riders on a very different platform,” said Mellis Walker, Group Manager: Financial Performance at Exxaro Resources. “This is an event that has iconic status in the country and it will be fantastic to see how the youngsters perform against the established riders over challenging terrain in the Western Cape.”
Additionally, a number of entries will be allocated to promote the development of historically disadvantaged women riders across all three events – the Chardonnay, Pinotage and Shiraz.