The province’s elite cyclists were well and truly shaken from their usual winter hibernation when the inaugural Beachfront Lodges Premier Cycling League came to town.

The nine-event series, devised to elevate the status of the sport at the highest level, rolled into motion at the end of May and concluded late September.

Taking a leaf from the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) Pro Tour concept, which is based on quality rather than quantity, Eastern Province Cycling (EPC) took a huge leap of faith and lots of flack when they announced that the league would be open to an elitist field only.

Participation was based on certain qualification criteria – in this case EPC’s affiliated clubs, each of which had to enter its top six riders, irrespective of age. The field was also opened up to a quartet of invitational teams, selected by EPC, for top riders from farther afield.

The league, which focussed on individuals and teams, consisted of one multistage event, two team time-trials and six road races.

It produced three different individual winners: Mecer-NMMU’s Conrad Viljoen, Friendly City Cycles’ Raynard Tissink and national under 23 champion Clinton Barrow, an invitee. Victories in the team time-trials were shared between Friendly City Cycles and Mecer-NMMU.

The 25-year-old Viljoen won five events and was deservedly voted rider of the series. Former national development rider Welcome Stokwe (Friendly City Cycles), who had started off slowly, peaked in the latter half of the series and was named the most improved rider.

The team section, which was based on the relative finishing positions of all the riders in each team throughout the league season, was won by Mecer-NMMU (99 points).

Toyota-Cycle Lab (79), Friendly City Cycles (73), Walmer Club (53) and Volkswagen (49) rounded out the top five. Volkswagen were also named the most improved team.

A successful Challenge Series was held in conjunction with each league event for up-and-coming riders as well as those who failed to make their clubs’ first-choice teams. It served as a feeder series to the league and to expose younger riders to the local stars.

According to Louis Rossouw, EPC president, the league succeeded in getting bums on seats during the winter period and, “. . . through the exposure, we’ve built cycling as a brand and we now have a wonderful product to offer our current and future sponsors.”

Johann Dreyer, managing director of Beachfront Lodges in Port Elizabeth, said the group immediately saw the merits of associating themselves with EPC and the league. “Cycling has become a metaphor for a certain lifestyle and we embrace the same through our beachfront accommodation.”

Issued by:

Full Stop Communications

Coetzee Gouws
041 368 4992
082 575 7991

On behalf of:

EP Cycling