Gaborone — Cycling club, Team Swift, is participating at the Tour de Limpopo (TDL) cycling race scheduled for May 15-18.
Tour de Limpopo is a UCI Africa Tour 2.2 stage race for professional cycling teams and a second consecutive international road cycling stage race to be hosted in Limpopo.
Although not fully a professional team, Team Swift would go to TDL to gain experience since it aspires to be a continental professional team in Botswana.
In an interview, Team Swift manager, David Lebalelo said they would send six riders consisting of four Batswana and two from South Africa.
He said the invitation to participate at TDL would give their cyclists exposure and experience going forth.
He further indicated that Team Swift would be taking part to finish the race and learn from professional experienced teams such as Dimension Data, Pro Touch, Team Rwanda and many others which cycle in big international races like Tour de France. Lebalelo explained that Team Swift's participation at TDL and finishing the race would afford them a UCI ranking.
In addition, Lebalelo said it was their wish that Botswana could come up with similar events that could be used as a tool to market the country. He said like Limpopo Tourism, using TDL as a tool to create awareness about their tourism, the same could be done in Botswana.
Many cyclists are interested in exploring Botswana terrains, he said further appealing to relevant stakeholders to stage events which would be of benefit to not only the development of cycling as a sport in the country but also to the country.
Tour de Limpopo is a four-day stage race offering cyclists stunning views of scenic Modjadji Kloof, starting from Bela Bela heading to the capital city Polokwane doing a 172km, stage two is 96.6km from Polokwane heading to Tzaneen and stage three which is 103km is from Tzaneen to Coach House. The last lap which is 116 km will start from Tzaneen to Polokwane confronting riders with scenic yet demanding ascend and descend of the Magoebaskloof pass and passing various landscapes on 18 May to finish the tour at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Meanwhile, Lebalelo noted that Team Swift recently participated at the 100 Cycle Challenge (100CC) in Gauteng. The team sent in six riders; Thabang Oliphant, Thapelo Sebonego, Thabang Mokalake, Tshepo Sentsho, Daniel Kelaotswe and Lyod Molale, as well as a lady cyclist Siphiwe Ratladi whom according to Lebalelo did very well in the race as it was her first experience in South Africa.
According to Lebalelo, the 100CC was a learning experience and that he observed that as a country there was still a lot that needed to be done in terms of cycling development. He indicated that 'cycling as a sport needs to be part of the BISA structure as that will afford them to start from a young age at primary schools.' He said that could also help the association to develop cyclists and develop the sport as a whole.
Tour de Limpopo attracted nineteen domestic and international cycling teams, from ten countries in four continents of Asia, North America, Europe and Africa with close to 124 cyclists.