With prize money totalling R100 000 in 2011, The Herald VW Cycle Tour will again set the benchmark as the Eastern Cape’s richest race, said race director Shane Bradfield.
The event, which takes place in Port Elizabeth on February 5 and 6, is the culmination of a festival of cycling in the Friendly City that includes the four-day South African Road Cycling Championships.
In the lead-up to the year’s first national classic, professional team bosses highlighted the role mass participation races and their prize monies played in developing the sport.
“Event organisers have to keep in mind that we are developing future athletes and without … their events this is not possible,” said Team Medscheme owner/rider Malcolm Lange.
“It is therefore the responsibility of each organiser to look after professional cycling to secure the future of the sport.”
While R100 000 is a huge commitment by the organisers, especially in these times, team bosses are suggesting that financial rewards be structured differently to make professional cycling a more attractive career option.
“I would prefer to see trophies given out to the younger riders,” said Team bizhub’s John Robertson. “I’ve never seen the point of paying small amounts to winners of every single category from U/14 to grand masters.”
Lange added that while prize money was certainly important, professional sport was also about gaining exposure. “The races with the most exposure are not necessarily the ones with the best prize money.”
Bradfield said, for a race of its size, The Herald’s prize pool is substantial when compared with races such as the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, which offers R275 000.
Robertson said that cycling prize money was still lagging behind other professional codes, such as road running.
“By comparison, the female winner of the Soweto Marathon receives R60 000.” He also cited the example of the Comrades Marathon, which offers R250 000 to each of the respective champions.
“Look at the prize money which is paid out to pros who win the Argus or 94.7 compared to the amount of money that these races generate,” said Robertson.
“If they had big purses, I could almost guarantee that we would see more international riders lining up.”
The fact that cycling was generally a team sport meant that winnings were divided among the members and therefore spread even more thinly, according to Lange.
“Ten percent goes to the federation, management takes a cut and the rest is split among the riders.”
Lange won R16 000 when he took top spot in last year’s Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour – South Africa’s premier race.
Apart from prize money, The Herald VW Cycle Tour will be giving away a new VW Polo Vivo worth over R100 000 and two Giant bicycles to the value of R50 000.
For more information on The Herald VW Cycle Tour, or to enter, visit www.heraldcycletour.co.za.