28 September 2012
The quest by Team Bonitas, one of South Africa’s most successful professional men’s road cycling teams, to become a world-class outfit has received a major boost, with Bonitas announcing a partnership with French professional team La Pomme Marseille for 2013.
The partnership, announced on Friday, between the two International Cycling Union (UCI) Continental-graded teams, will pave the way for members of Team Bonitas, which comprises only South African riders, to compete in some of the highest-level races in France and elsewhere in Europe in 2013.
After the team dominated the domestic racing scene from 2009 to 2011, ambitious Team Bonitas owner Malcolm Lange, of Lange Sports, upped the team’s goals to grow into a respected, successful international outfit by registering it as a UCI Continental team for 2012 and added two six-week stints of European racing to the team’s roster.
During those stints in Spain and Portugal the team performed admirably. Bonitas then signed former Road General Manager at Cycling South Africa, Barry Austin. Through his relationship with European cycling agents, Velofuture, he attracted the attention of La Pomme Marseille as a possible partner, which has now been finalised.
“We know that we have to get our riders to Europe, but we simply don’t have the huge budget to just plant our team there. So creating a partnership with an established club and professional team like La Pomme allows us to aim for the same objectives more cost effectively,” explained Malcolm Lange in a statement.
“The French racing scene is a tough one to get into, but by partnering with La Pomme, we’ll have the benefits of the instant infrastructure of a respected community.
‘Similar goals and principles
“The La Pomme professional team has similar goals and principles to Team Bonitas, so it’ll be an organic growth process for both them and us.
“Ultimately, the aim is to springboard talented South Africans into the big leagues and grow the Team Bonitas brand’s reputation both locally and internationally.”
There will be a total of four Team Bonitas riders based in Marseille at any one time between April and September 2013 with a rotation system in place to give most of the riders at least a two-month period of racing there each.
The 2013 Team Bonitas team will comprise 10 riders and the final line-up will be announced before the end of November.
“South Africa hosts some of the world’s highest profile mountain bike and BMX racing events. The only reason we don’t have consistently high profile road events in the country is because the road cycling event organisers in South Africa cater for the masses with relatively short, less challenging race routes,” said team manager Barry Austin.
“This means that our talented road riders have to compete abroad to gain the appropriate experience, which is logistically challenging and costly.
“It therefore makes sense to create an association with a team like La Pomme Marseille.
“We believe it’s the most efficient way to develop our riders and we will obviously offer reciprocal infrastructure and support when their riders come to South Africa for training camps or to compete in selected events.”
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