Rian Oberholzer, a former Chief Executive Officer of the South African Rugby Union (Saru), is going to help CyclingSA with its strategic planning.
Given Oberholzer’s rugby background it should not be a surprise that one the ideas he has put forward is to see if he can’t get a cycling Tri-Nations test started.
“It is important for me that cycling in South Africa must be run along sound business principles. That can only happen if CyclingSA start to host their own events because no national sports body can just rely on outside race organizers to keep their sport going.
“One my suggestions to CyclingSA is to investigate the possibility of hosting a Tri-Nations test. It will be up to the management of CyclingSA to decide in which of the four cycling disciplines (road, mountain bike, track and BMX) they want to compete internationally.
“At the moment I am thinking along the lines of a test between the riders from South Africa, New-Zealand and Australia but nothing is final. What will be exciting about such test is the fact that it could become a source of extra revenue for CyclingSA if managed properly.”
According to Oberholzer another thing that will be important is that CyclingSA must set itself the goal of ensuring that they are ranked as one of the top ten countries in each of the cycling disciplines.
“When I was still involved with rugby our goal were always to ensure the Springboks was one of the top three ranked teams in the world. I firmly believe that if South Africa’s is one of the top ten cycling nations the riders will start winning medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships.”
Part of Oberholzer’s job description is also to get new sponsors involved in cycling.
Inspite of the fact that international cycling has been making newspaper headlines for all the wrong reasons in the last few years due to the continuing misuse of banned substances by cyclists Oberholzer is confident that he will be able to convince the important decision makers in the business world to invest money in South African cycling.
“It is sad that cycling at the moment has such a bad reputation, but as far as I am concerned it is not fully justified. If one compare what has been happening in cycling to what is happening in the other sporting codes and also take into account the number of people who are actively competing in cycling the percentage riders who are guilty of using banned substances are actually quite small.
“Anyway CyclingSA cannot be held responsible if for example some cyclist do test positive during the Tour de France.”
As far as mountain biking is concerned, the good news is that South Africa will again be hosting a UCI (International Cycling Federation) Mountain Bike World Cup event next year.
Last year’s World Cup event was certainly one of the major highlights in South African cycling history, with 30 000 spectators attending the cross-country and downhill races.
Next year’s World Cup event will again be held at the Cascades in Pietermaritzburg. It will be the second event in the World Cup series.
Andrew Nicholson, Director Mountain Biking, said that CyclingSA has already tendered to host a World Cup event in 2012 and 2013 as well.
“We have also submitted a tender for the 2013 Mountain Biking World Championship.
“There is one thing that I want to make clear. South Africa has never lost the right to host a World Cup event.
“The only reason why there will be no World Cup event in South Africa this year, is that the UCI has lost their main sponsor and they have therefore decided to hold all the World Cup events in Europe this year to save money.
“The South Africa World Cup was voted by cyclists, as well as officials, to be one of the three best events of the 2009 series.”