With just under 10 days to go before the inaugural Tour de Limpopo kicks off in Polokwane, South Africa, First Quantum Pro Cycling from Zambia and ProTouch Pro Cycling from South Africa are amongst 20 local and international professional cycling teams anticipating the brand new addition to the UCI Africa Tour calendar this year in this prestigious four-stage race that carries a UCI 2.2 rating.
First Quantum Pro Cycling - ZAMBIA
First Quantum Pro Cycling’s Ryan Ellis says that a race like this one can only grow on the African continent. “I was ecstatic when I heard that the Tour de Limpopo would be a UCI 2.2 race. If it wasn't for this race, we'd have had to travel to north Africa to gain the same racing exposure. It's a great step forward for South African racing,” he said.
“The Tour de Limpopo is a chance for riders in southern Africa to compete over longer stages in some big mountains. It is desperately needed.”
Ryan (26) first turned professional as a junior attachment to South African road team House of Paint in 2009. After competing for four years in road and mountain bike races, he took a break from the sport to pursue a degree in journalism. In 2016, he returned to his home of Zambia and returned to professional cycling, signing with First Quantum Pro Cycling. Ryan finish in seventh place at the 2017 African Continental Championships.
Relative new comer Michael Olokani (28) is a climbing specialist and is likely to do well in the hills of Limpopo. He has gradually risen through the ranks of Zambian cycling over the last five years, turning pro in 2017, winning the Zambian national road race series in the same year. 2018 is his first year of racing internationally.
Kansanshi Cycling Team’s Sydney Juma (20) is a road racing specialist who recently completed a six-week training camp at the UCI World Cycling Centre Africa in Potchefstroom, South Africa. During the camp, Sydney gained valuable experience racing against some of the top riders on the continent.
Bedias Tunkanya and Benard Saulombu (both 19 years old) are the two youngest riders on the Zambian team. Both are competing in their second year in the Elite category this season and experience will be their most valuable takeaway from the race.
Seasoned South Africa cyclist Francois Burger (20) has been cycling since the age of six and spent eight years cycling in Zambia. He was a member of the first Zambian junior team that competed at the African Continental Championships in 2015, and currently specialises in long distance triathlons while still competing in road and mountain bike races.
South African Tuan van Eeden and American Nora Richards make up First Quantum Pro Cycling’s support team at the Tour de Limpopo.
ProTouch Pro Cycling - SOUTH AFRICA
With podium places and race victories in most of their races already this season, South African team ProTouch Pro Cycling are relishing the opportunity to race in a UCI-ranked competition against some new teams and unfamiliar riders. Team Manager Tony Harding said that being in the mix daily will take care of results.
“Having a UCI event in South Africa is a great opportunity, not only for domestic teams to test themselves against international competition but also to gain some important UCI points which helps towards qualifying riders for UCI World Championships,” explained Tony. “The more points our riders can garner, the more marketable they make themselves in Europe.”
Hailing from East London, Reynard Butler (28) moved to Johannesburg to pursue a career in professional cycling and is a sprinter and occasional climber. His greatest achievement was two stage wins in the Tour of Melez Zenawi (Ethiopia) in 2016. This season, Reynard has scooped victories in the popular South African one-day races, Emperors Classic, Dischem Ride for Sight and Berg and Dale Classic.
With his roots on the track since he was a teenager, Jayde Julius (24) fine-tuned his skills and has progressed to be a formidable rider on the national circuit. Throughout his young racing career, he has competed in prestigious events including Youth Olympic Games, UCI World Championships and UCI Nations’ Cup as a Junior and at the UCI World Championships in Richmond, USA as an u23 rider, and he was the 2015 U23 African Continental Champion.
In 2017, Gustav Basson’s accolades included a first place in the Trofee van Oost Vlaanderen in Belgium, as well as winning the Yarona 106.6 Cycle Challenge in Botswana. The 22-year-old achieved a podium third place at this year’s Tour of Good Hope and SA National Championships (U23) and was runner up in the Berge and Dale Classic.
After signing his first professional contract in 2012, Myles van Musschenbroek (25) has steadily become a household name in domestic racing. While largely playing the support role for his teammates over the years, Myles is now coming to the forefront where his strengths are playing out for his team.
James Fourie (25) has gained experience on the racing circuit by competing in local and international races as an U23 rider, and he was the SA National Time Trial Champion as a junior.
Mitchell Eliot (21) is a consistent rider and often finishes in the top five positions of his race. The strong climber will be equipped to tackle the mountainous terrain that lies in wait in Limpopo.
ProTouch Pro Cycling will be supported by South Africans Tony Harding, Brad Eliot and Sasha Eliot at the Tour de Limpopo.
Invited teams from South Africa and around the world have selected six of their best warriors for the task at hand; each team accompanied by three support crew. The fully accommodated event covers all aspects of the teams’ stay in Limpopo during the race once they have arrived. For more details on the participating teams, visit https://www.tourdelimpopo.co.za/teams/.
About the Tour de Limpopo
The Tour de Limpopo is a four-day, UCI Africa Tour 2.2 stage race starting in the capital city of Polokwane, heading east to the town of Tzaneen, where riders will stay for three nights, before heading back to Polokwane on 26 April to finish the Tour at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
For further race information, visit www.tourdelimpopo.co.za.