As the sun rose over the pristine lawns of Steyn City's School grounds, there was a buzz of excitement with nearly 900 keen young cyclists rolling in from the parking lot, proudly dressed in their school's colours - ready for a day of racing.
The inaugural event of the 2023 Cycle Lab Schools MTB series saw more than 70 schools from around Gauteng pitch their gazebos along the route's (seemingly mile-long) Tech Zone and ready their finest cyclists in what is set to be one of the biggest years of racing that South African schools-level cycling has ever seen. With incredible representation in both the boys and girls fields, ranging from Sub Junior to Junior 18/19, the sheer number of keen cyclists was something to behold.
"The importance of what events like this add to the future of racing in South Africa and internationally, can't be underestimated and the fact that parents, schools and event sponsors are all stepping up and showing their support means that we can provide a platform for incredible talent to be discovered - potentially helping to catapult these youngsters onto the international stage. Maybe even the next Alan Hatherly, Candice Lill or Matt Beers" - Sven Pederson (Cycle Lab School MTB Series Event Director) sped around the course and race village with a phone in one hand and a two way radio in the other, exuding excitement and passion for the good work that's being done. CIOVITA Founder and CEO, Andrew Gold, mentioned at the Captain's Evening (an event hosted in one of the Cycle Lab Flagship stores in Pretoria, where custom-made captain's armbands were handed over to representatives from every school) that it's crucial for brands within the industry to recognise tomorrow's talent and be actively involved in supporting the ongoing development of this talent.
With experience as apparel partners of the Global Epic MTB Series and a number of other local and international events like Cape Town Cycle Tour, Spinneys Dubai Cycle Challenge and Trans Baviaans MTB, CIOVITA stepped on board as partner to the series, offering custom-made leader jerseys to all age category leaders and giving these future stars the opportunity to wear the same kit as their heroes! With a range of event merch available for pre-order soon and the ability to create custom school kit, these young racers and their supporters can soon look the part both on and off the bike.
Here's to an exciting new partnership and a very successful season of school-level racing.
*The 2023 Cycle Lab Schools MTB Series consists of 5 regional events to identify top schools and individuals, eventually culminating in a National Final event at the end of September where all top athletes will be going wheel to wheel for a national title and special champion's jersey that's sure to become a very memorable trophy!