Swaziland’s mountain bike champion Thulani Gule and national off-road series winner Fana Mentani have been invited to join the African challenge in this year’s Old Mutual joBerg2c.
The pair is among a number of elite teams from as far afield as Kenya and Namibia who will be competing in the 910km South African stage race.
The event takes place over nine days, starting in Heidelberg just outside Johannesburg on April 27 and finishing on the beach at Scottburgh south of Durban on May 5.
“Inviting riders from African countries where we have a presence allows us to create a positive experience for them,” said Joy Khaole, head of sponsorships at Old Mutual.
“It also gives us a platform from which to promote growth and cohesion within these markets.”
Khaole said the race was a perfect fit for their philosophy of doing great things and encouraged a spirit of adventure and camaraderie among participants.
Kenyans David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau have featured particularly prominently since claiming the runner-up spot in 2010’s inaugural event behind South Africans Andrew Mclean and Shan Wilson. Last year, they placed fifth overall.
Although this will be Gule and Mentani’s first outing at the event, they have previously competed in The Logico Swazi Frontier, a three-day stage race that rolls out in the Hhohho region in October.
“We are excited that Thulani and Fana have been given this opportunity to represent Swaziland at the Old Mutual JoBerg2C,” said The Logico Swazi Frontier’s Brett Foss.
The organisers of the Swazi race will be assisting the riders with logistics and preparation for the South African event.
The prospect of riding for nine consecutive days could be daunting but Gule and Mentani had been training hard, said Foss.
“It will be important for them to eat well and get plenty of rest after each stage. The race will also be hard on their equipment, which will need to be maintained after each day’s ride.”
Foss said the team-mates were impressive ambassadors for Swaziland and wished them a safe and successful race.