A quick cy­cle through the Cape

The Star Early Edition - - CRICKET - KEVIN MCCAL­LUM Chief Sports Writer

THIS morn­ing, pos­si­bly at around the same time as Par­lia­ment had ended a good night of bust­ing and blus­ter, BA6401 will have de­liv­ered me to Cape Town for seven days in which cy­cling, once again, will rule my world. There was a time when I flew to Cape Town for rugby and cricket, and even the odd boat race, but in th­ese times of aus­ter­ity and a after pro­longed bout of vom­it­ing on a boat in the Cape Town har­bour, those days are few and far be­tween.

The week­end will start with per­haps my favourite race on the South African cal­en­dar – the Corona­tion Dou­ble Cen­tury, 209km of rolling joy and suf­fer­ing around the Western Cape, start­ing and fin­ish­ing in Swellen­dam. It will be the fourth or fifth time I have rode the DC, an an­nual invitation from Dave Bel­lairs, Adri Bootsma and the good folk at the Cape Town Cy­cle Tour of­fice. Save for those who in­vite the odd pro­fes­sional – like Team Sky’s Tour de France rider Ben Swift, who will be rid­ing for Hot Chillee – the aim is to fin­ish be­fore the beers get warm and, most im­por­tantly, to en­sure all of the team fin­ish. It’s a ride, not a race for the rest of us. The slower teams start first. Our teams have started first ev­ery year. It’s a mark of some hon­our.

On Mon­day, I will be hav­ing din­ner with the crew of Swift Car­bon, the bi­cy­cle brand owned and founded by for­mer South African pro, Mark Blewett. They are the bike spon­sor of the pro-con­ti­nen­tal Dra­pac team, who have just signed young South African Dy­lan Girdle­stone to a one-year con­tract. On Tues­day, I’ll be in Stel­len­bosch for the rest of the week with MTN-Qhubeka at their pre-sea­son train­ing camp at Spier. Doug Ry­der, the founder and team prin­ci­pal says MTN Qhubeka has big plans for 2015, and has signed a hand­ful of big-name rid­ers to en­sure those plans are taken se­ri­ously by race or­gan­is­ers, no­tably ASO, who own the Tour de France. Ry­der was in France for the route an­nounce­ment re­cently and with the help of the man­age­ment peo­ple from Cervelo, the Cana­dian bike man­u­fac­turer that has come on as both equip­ment spon­sor and a role that could be de­scribed as a mix of mar­ket­ing and strat­egy, is hop­ing to be­come the first African team at the big­gest race of them all.

In Swellen­dam, Nic Dlamini of Capricorn Park in the Western Cape, will ride with Swift on the Hot Chillee team at the DC, has signed for MTN Qhubeka’s feeder team. He, too, will be hop­ing Ry­der’s dream of the Tour de France is re­alised.

If it is then, he and many other South African cy­clists, will see their way to the big time of the sport, has be­come a lit­tle bit clearer.

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