PMB aims to be Africa's cycling capital

2007-11-18 00:00

The successful bid for the 2010 UCI BMX World Championships, which will be staged in Pietermaritzburg after the Fifa Soccer World Cup, was the first victory for Pietermaritzburg and Africa.

In line with this vision, Treble and CSA bid on Pietermaritzburg's behalf to stage a series of elite international road races, which have now been awarded.

The race series includes five one day races and is scheduled to take place in February 2008.

It is listed on the Continental Calendar of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) as a Category: ME (Men Elite) 1.1/UCI Africa Tour Event and has been called The World's View Challenge.

Pietermaritzburg Tourism director, Melanie Veness said this was a “first major international event series” for the city and “the first cycling event of this stature on the African continent”.

Event director Alec Lenferna said Pietermaritzburg won the bid after meeting various selection

criteria.

Lenferna said the objective of bringing the sport to the city is to “internationalise it”.

He said: “All of us will have to work continually harder to do things better than other cities worldwide due to the unfortunate stigma attached to Africa”.

Two UCI ProTour teams from Italy, Milram and Liquigas (ranked number two in the world), will be competing in the event, as well as Barloworld, eight internationally ranked teams, the South African National Team and the SA Development Squad.

A total of 56 international team applications have already been received.

Veness said that there are “enormous implications for tourism and Pietermaritzburg's economy”.

“We've been looking for an opportunity to host an international event and this is exciting from an economic perspective as it will draw large crowds of people,” Veness said.

She added that this event gives local cyclists opportunities that they were never afforded before due to the fact that recreational riders will also be able to compete in the same race in their own

categories.

Positive feedback was received from the Transport and Sport and Recreation departments, and it has been a pleasure to work with city officials and councillors, according to Lenferna.

“This provides Pietermaritzburg an opportunity to gain an international profile at a cost that is minimal compared to other cities. Cycling is a cheaper sport”, Lenferna said.

“We are keen to ensure that this is the best race of its kind,” Veness said.

For more information go to www.worldsviewchallenge.co.za

nerissag@witness.co.za

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