The Western Cape’s Fairtree Imperial Cannondale Racing Team is not only an accomplished mountain biking (MTB) team but they are rising stars on the global cycling stage, with some impressive wins both locally and internationally over the past two years.
“The team includes 16 men and two women, all from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Chris Norton, Team Manager of the Fairtree Imperial Cannondale Racing Team.
“Despite facing many adversities, their incredible growth over the past few years leaves no doubt that they are a positive example of how sport has the power to unite communities and change individual circumstances, as it has done with these incredible riders, thanks to the people that have come together to give them the opportunities they deserve, and also to their commitment and dedication to the sport of cycling.”
Sponsorship opens doors
Imperial, a DP World Company, began its sponsorship of the team in 2021, which includes the use of a vehicle to transport the team, new cycling kits, and funding towards team housing and living expenses.
The riders haven grown from strength to strength during this time, with team members Luyanda Thobigunya and Lorenzo le Roux winning the esteemed FNB Wine2Whales in 2021, as well as the Exxaro category of the Absa Cape Epic that year, finishing 30th in the overall race. Having seven teams competing in the latter race represented a first for any South African cycling academy.
This year has seen exponential growth for the team. Not only have they expanded to include a women’s team, but the men’s team has seen phenomenal success during theyear, with a first-place podium win at the Brewery to Brewery 2022 race, and the team placing in the Top 20 overall.
Luyando and Lorenzo also placed 16th overall in theWines2Whales 2022 race, and 15th in their category. At the Java MTB & Trail Challenge, the team scooped all three podium spots, with a further two team members in the top-10. Another highlight was the Origin of Trails 2022, where the whole team finished within the Top 100 riders, with Luyando ranking first overall.
Team spirit creates a healthy living buzz
This team is excelling at cycling and is also helping create a culture of healthy living by using the discipline of cycling to address both sporting and social challenges. They also earn an income as accredited tour guides with the Western Cape government, offering guiding to individuals, corporates and tourists, using local restaurant Casa Cerveza in Stellenbosch as their base.
“It is also encouraging to see team members paying their success forward in their communities,” says Norton.
Edwin Hewitt, CEO of Imperial’s Logistics Africa business says: “This kind of team spirit and success, and the focus on community development, are what underpin the essence of our sports sponsorships as a business. We believe in the power of sport and what it can do for individuals, as well as that it can positively impact communities at large. We are proud to be associated with this incredible young team and look forward to their continued success.”
“The team has grown dramatically over the past year due to the support from sponsors that have provided nutrition, housing, transportation and kit to ensure they are able to perform optimally. We have already found housing for our women’s team, which will increase to four members next year. We are excited by the progress made by our riders and look forward to some great results in 2023!” says Norton.
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