Nineteen domestic and international cycling teams will descend upon Limpopo in just over a week as we gear up towards the 2019 edition of the Tour de Limpopo, a four-day UCI Africa Tour 2.2 stage race taking place in the province from 14-18 May.
The lure of UCI points is great attraction for the pro-continental teams, which will see riders competing for more than just the Yellow Jersey as they work to improve their individual and nations’ ranking on the international and African UCI ranking system. The mix of 18 nationalities will see 64 foreign visitors on South African soil, from Belgium, Italy, Greece, Slovenia and Great Britain, to Malaysia, Brunei, Rwanda, Botswana, Reunion, Namibia and Swaziland to name a few.
The Dimension Data Continental Team will be lining up on the start line in Bela Bela. Their team of five riders will consist of Italians Samuele Battistella (20) and Alexander Konychev (20), South African Connor Brown (20), Slovenian Martin Lavric (20) and Rwandan Samuel Mugisha (21). Battistella achieved top results at the 2018 Grand Prix Priessnitz Spa with a second place in the General Classification; Lavric was crowned the 2018 Zwift Academy winner after which he was awarded a one-year pro contract for the team’s U23 squad, and Mugisha won the 2018 Tour du Rwanda.
Team Manager Kevin Campbell says that his team is aiming to win, but at the very least they want to secure some stage wins. In response to a UCI 2.2 stage race being held in South Africa, Campbell said it was long overdue and it is just what our country needs to ensure that the standard of local racing does not regress. “Historically when SA hosted International cycling events, SA was the country with the highest competitive racing standard in Africa.”
Having thoroughly researched the lie of the land in Limpopo in preparation for the tour, Campbell says that the racing will be tough. While the team is down to business in the province and their time after the race is limited, their Italian staff members are looking forward to “seeing the ‘wild’ side of Africa and will try and view some of the Big 5 which will be fantastic. But our first priority will be to race well and hopefully win,” he said.
Domestic team Officeguru Racing will be looking to achieve a top 10 position in the overall GC. Their U23 Pro team race together most weekends across the country. Competing in their second event of the tour, the team enjoyed the terrain which they felt made for exciting and challenging racing. Dylan Girdlestone (29) will be the senior team member with Travis Barrett (19), Marc Pritzen (19), Jean Pierre Lloyd (18), Andrew Edwards (20) and Alexander Worsdale (20) completing the six-man team.
Team NCCS Namibia will field a six-man team, featuring a line-up of Hermann Keller, Chiponeni Kashululu, Danzel Dekoe, Johannes Hamunyela, Marckernzy Eiseb and Ryan Terry. The team has competed in a number of southern African events in the past six years, including Telkom 947, MTN Swaziland Cycle Challenge and the Cape Town Cycle Tour (where they achieved a top 10 result with Dan Craven in this year’s event). The team also completed big tours such as the Tour of Good Hope, Tour de Limpopo (2018) and the Tour de Windhoek.
With the inaugural Tour de Limpopo under their belt, Team Principal and communications manager Jacob Kiyola says that they found the race profile “unique and tough”. “The road was good, and the scenery was beautiful, which made the pain feel better,” he says. “While we are in Limpopo, we will definitely try and visit the game farms and taste the local cuisine. It’s also an opportunity to visit family and friends close by.”
Other big teams that will be competing are the UCI Continental registered teams of Benediction Cycling Team from Rwanda, the first UCI team registered in Rwanda and featuring top riders such as Bonaventure Uwizeyimana; Team ProTouch Sports Continental and Team TEG Continental – both UCI teams registered in South Africa for the 2019 season; and Brunei Continental Cycling Team from Brunei Darussalam.
To view the teams that will be participating in the 2019 Tour de Limpopo, visit: https://www.tourdelimpopo.co.za/teams