The winners of the inaugural Exxaro Development Jersey at the 2012 Absa Cape Epic, from the Exxaro Academy, Azukile Simayile and Siphosenkosi Madolo, are on their way to Germany to participate in this year’s 8-day TransAlp, which takes place from 14 to 21 July 2012. In addition, the two Absa Cape Epic finishers will also spend some time at the Specialized head office in Munich. The opportunity to participate in the TransAlp was the riders’ prize for winning the Exxaro Jersey at this year’s Absa Cape Epic.

Says Azukile Simayile (18): “I’m very excited about my first overseas trip and riding the TransAlp. It’s a great opportunity for me to be racing in another country and gain more experience. I’ll be riding a 29-er, which I think will improve my overall performance as it offers more speed and stability. Exxaro has made of all this possible and I’m very grateful for this wonderful opportunity they’re giving us.”

His team mate Siphosenkosi Madolo (21) adds: “I’m so busy at the moment as I’m writing exams, but I’m extremely excited about going overseas for the first time. I actually can’t wait and hope the time comes very soon. I trained hard, but perhaps not hard enough. I have to study in between, so I’ve been doing around 7 hours on the weekends and at least 1 to 2 hours per day of running or mountain biking. I recently also qualified for the SA duathlon championships on 17 June, representing the Western Cape, of which I’m very proud. I’m hoping to get a good time at the TransAlp – I want to ride fast – and to measure my endurance and fitness levels. This opportunity will definitely help us in improving our times at next year’s Absa Cape Epic. From my heart, I’d really like to thank Exxaro, Songo.info and the Absa Cape Epic for their help in making this dream come true. Hopefully we’ll do them and our community proud.”

Simayile’s aspirations for next year are to complete Grade 12 successfully and improve his overall position in the Absa Cape Epic. Madolo wants to complete matric this year and “win the Absa African Leader jersey at next year’s 10th Absa Cape Epic”.

According to CEO of Exxaro, Sipho Nkosi: “Exxaro chose to foster the sport as a catalyst for change by partnering with the Absa Cape Epic. Our goal was to identify talented riders, screen, train and develop them to be able to become part of the experience of world-class events like the Absa Cape Epic and now the TransAlp. I’m proud to say that we’re doing exactly that. By sending these two young riders overseas to participate in another world-class event, we hope to harness their talent so that they can eventually become real contenders in events such as the Absa Cape Epic.”

Adds Kevin Vermaak, founder of the Absa Cape Epic: “Mountain bike development is in our blood. Way back in 2003, along with our sponsor partners, we supported young Nicolas Quitoyi and Patrick Majeke from Kayelitsha, to participate in the TransAlp. At the time, only one mountain bike stage race besides the Cape Epic existed in South Africa. Quitoyi’s TransAlp trip was the start of a decade of development for him. Today he’s an experienced motor-mechanic at Audi in Somerset West, and he can afford to buy his own bike to participate in next year’s Absa Cape Epic – his 4th Cape Epic since 2004.

“Ten years later, it’s incredibly exciting to be a part of the programme that is sending over the winners of the Exxaro Development special jersey classification, Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile, to again participate in the TransAlp. As Songo.info riders, they set themselves a goal in August last year when the Exxaro MTB Academy was announced, and today they’re receiving the reward for achieving their goal. They always dreamt of standing next to their mentor and trainer, Christoph Sauser, on the podium and it became a reality at this year’s Absa Cape Epic. My advise to them is to keep on setting and striving for their goals. I’d like to wish them all the best of luck in Germany and to do South Africa proud on their mountain bikes,” Vermaak concludes.