Finweek English Edition - - COVER -

As a long-haul des­ti­na­tion, South Africa would not be in a po­si­tion to bid for a stage of the Tour de France. But it can learn valu­able lessons about how to pro­mote a coun­try and the medi­ums it can use to do this just as other long-haul des­ti­na­tions such as Aus­tralia and China have done with their sig­na­ture tours − The San­tos Tour Down Un­der and the Tour of Bei­jing. The key to the suc­cess of these tours is the abil­ity to at­tract pro­fes­sional in­ter­na­tional cy­clists, which in turn guar­an­tees me­dia cov­er­age and tourism inf low.

To do this, the race needs to be one that will al­low these elite cy­clists and their teams to earn much-needed UCI (Union Cy­cliste In­ter­na­tionale) points, whether part of the UCI World Tour or UCI Con­ti­nen­tal Tour. African coun­tries like the Ivory Coast whose seven-day stage race Tour de Côte d’Ivoire – Tour de la Ré­c­on­cil­i­a­tion, joins Africa’s UCI Con­ti­nen­tal Cir­cuit in 2014 and the now es­tab­lished Tour du Faso in neigh­bour­ing Burk­ina Faso are do­ing just that by in­vest­ing in in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cred­ited races.

With­out a se­ri­ous in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cred­ited road stage race to f ly the rain­bow na­tion’s f lag, at­ten­tion has turned to the con­ti­nent’s f irst Pro Con­ti­nen­tal African team, Team MTNQhubeka who, like the Bar­loworld Team did be­fore them in the Tour de France in 2007, will have a role to play in pro­mot­ing the coun­try and the con­ti­nent at the Vuelta a Es­paña (Tour of Spain) later this year.

Sadly, this year SA was with­out a par­tic­i­pant in the Tour de France. The con­se­quence of this was that the TV com­men­ta­tors had lit­tle rea­son to talk about SA, its races and tourist at­trac­tions in any shape or form as they had in pre­vi­ous years.

Rob­bie Hunter, di­recteur sportif (team man­ager) of the Garmin-Sharp team and for­mer win­ner of a stage of the Tour de France, and for­mer Bar­loworld chief me­chanic and now Team Sky’s lead me­chanic, Gary Blem, were the coun­try’s only am­bas­sadors in a race which is see­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of cy­clists from the South­ern Hemi­sphere. But the coun­try is Aus­tralia, and the broad­cast­ing ex­po­sure Aus­tralia gar­ners through its cy­clists also helps

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