Major cycling coup for South Africa

10 July 2008

The face of professional road cycling in South Africa is set to change dramatically. This follows an announcement that the World’s View Challenge has been invited to be part of the International Cycling Union’s (UCI’s) ProTour from 2010.

The World’s View Challenge is only the second event outside of Europe to be considered for the ProTour. It is currently staged at at Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) UCI 1.1 level in Pietermaritzburg, but with its enhanced status, the event will see the best pro cycling teams in the world competing in South Africa for the first time.

Stated in other terms, those teams people love watching in the Tour de France will be the teams that are expected to take part in the race.

Inaugural race

The inaugural World’s View Challenge, which is owned and managed by Treble Entertainment, was made up of five one-day races staged in February this year.

ProTour teams, Liquigas and Milram, were included in the event alongside other international teams, such as Team Barloworld and Pezula Racing; they did battle against the best that South Africa and Africa had to offer.

The 2009 event is again scheduled as a series of UCI 1.1 races with three one-day races, from 13 February to 15 February, and will again be staged in Pietermaritzburg.

The UCI ProTour

The UCI ProTour was initiated in 2005, when the top 27 events and the top 18 professional cycling teams were awarded UCI ProTour licences. This ensures that the best international riders and teams participate in the most prestigious events in the world.

Initially all events in the series were staged in Europe, but in 2008 the Tour Down Under in Australia was added to the list and now the World’s View Challenge has been invited to join.

‘An amazing development’

Event Director, Alec Lenferna, was upbeat about the invitation: “This really is an amazing development, especially if you consider that we have only staged one edition of the event to date. However, we know that the event was a great success, a first for this country, and one which impressed the top teams and resulted in positive feedback to the pro peloton in Europe, as well as the UCI.

“It is an honour to be asked to join the UCI ProTour and we will go back with renewed vigour and stage the 2009 event to meet the exacting standards, demands and regulations outlined by the UCI,” he added.

“I am confident that our capabilities are comparable with the best in the world.”

Pietermaritzburg

Lenferna went on to say: “The level of support and enthusiasm the City of Pietermaritzburg has given to the international cycling events programme exceeds any other city’s input and they are now starting to see the benefits.

“We would not have been successful without their fantastic buy-in and they are an example of how a bit of faith and foresight can work for you.”

Treble Entertainment is also the organizer of the 2009 UCI BMX World Cup and UCI MTB World Cup, as well as the 2010 UCI MTB World Cup and 2010 UCI BMX World Championships – all to be staged in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.

Big event organiser

Lenferna is no stranger to organising big cycling events. He was event manager of the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour – the world’s largest individually timed cycling event – from 2000 to 2003. He then left to join the UCI, world cycling’s governing body.

During his time with the UCI he was responsible for the elite Golden Bike Series (of which the Argus Cycle Tour is a part), the Masters World Championships (which, back then, included the Juniors), and the Men’s and Women’s Road World Cups. He was also part of the design team for the UCI ProTour.

World Championships

Last year, Lenferna’s Treble Entertainment organised the UCI ‘B’ World Championships in Cape Town. This year they have organised the UCI Junior World Championships, which take place in the Mother City from 12 July to 20 July.

Despite Lenferna’s fine list of achievements, this – having the World’s View Challenge invited to be part of the UCI ProTour after only one year of the event – might take the cake.

What a coup!

SAinfo reporter