UCI Women’s Tour in Africa Welcomed With Open Arms

The phenomenal success of the inaugural 2011 Tour de Free State has opened the doors for the second running of the annual event to be featured as a UCI 2.1 WE race by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), making it the only Olympic qualifying road cycling race for women in Africa.

Besides being the first ever UCI Women’s road cycling tour in South Africa, the 5-day tour that runs from 23rd to 27th May is also the last opportunity for nations to increase their national rankings before the UCI’s May 31st deadline for the qualification of London Olympic Games places.

Currently, South Africa is the 17th ranked nation with 241,5 points. As it stands today, Brazil are sitting in the 13th place ‘hot seat’ with 287 points, leaving the South African women with about 46 points to make the grade.

Be rest assured that the nations trailing SA in the rankings will be out in full force to bump us out of contention, so the competition in less than 2 weeks will be tough and at its best.

“The top five teams on the UCI Women’s Elite road cycling national rankings can send 4 riders to the Olympics,” says Barry Austin, Cycling South Africa’s national road manager and Olympic code manager. “Teams 6 to 13 can send 3 riders and teams 14 to 23 can send two.

“The Tour de Free State will see battles for the top 13, as in South Africa’s case as we are striving to qualify 3 riders for the Olympics, as well as fierce competition for the final five places, with the likes of Sweden and Russia vying for those points to send 4 riders instead of three.

“So the impact is great, but also fair as we have to deserve our slots, but having the race on home ground will be a major benefit,” adds Austin.

Although there will be a major focus on the women’s UCI Elite racing, the Open Elite races will be open for participation to men’s professional teams and to amateur road racing teams.

For the UCI and Open Elite races, participants can register through Cycling South Africa’s website at the following link: http://csams.cyclingsa.com/enter-an-event.aspx

In addition, community races of 10km will be staged to provide communities the opportunity to raise money for local charities and schools by cyclists obtaining sponsors for the amount of kilometres they complete. Interested parties and schools can get the forms from info@tourdefreestate.com .

The Tour de Free State is an ambitious initiative, aiming to unlock and demonstrate the Free State tourism potential through cycling to national and international audiences.

Please visit www.tourdefreestate.com for any further information.

Tour de Free State Race Schedule – 23-27 May 2012

Day 1: 23 May
UCI race – Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve (Winburg), Virginia, Theunissen, ends Brandfort
Community race – Brandfort

Day 2: 24 May
UCI race – Jagersfontein, ends Bloemfontein

Day 3: 25 May
Elite open – Clarens
Community race – Ficksburg

Day 4: 26 May
UCI & Elite open – Clarens, Bethlehem, Fouriesburg, ends Clarens
Community race – Clarens

Day 5: 27 May
UCI & Elite open – Clarens, Phuthaditjhaba, ends Clarens