Press Release: 2 December 2014
Sponsor in administration - Mzansi Tour in jeopardy
The organisers of the Mzansi Tour have put out a rescue call to South African companies to save the 2015 edition of the country’s premier road cycling stage race after their major sponsor was put under administration.
Cathsseta, the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sports Sector Education Training Authority, a government body, told Mzansi Tour organisers they had gone into administration and could not honour the final year of their contract. The Mzansi Tour, the only UCI-ranked road event in South Africa, has been hailed as a major success after its first two years and its loss will be a major blow to the development of cycling in the country and the continent.
“We were called into an emergency meeting with Cathsseta 10 days ago where they told us that they had been put into administration and that our contract was suspended. On Friday 28 November we received a letter from the administrator saying that the sponsorship had been cancelled with immediate effect,” said Jenni Green, race director with Echelon Events, the group that organises the Mzansi Tour. “It was a massive shock to us as we had a year to run on our three-year contract and leaves us desperately looking for a big sponsor or benefactor to save the race.”
Tanya Harford, Co-Director at Echelon Events, said they were hoping a corporate would come in to help save the race for next year. If not, they would have little option but to postpone the race for 2015 with the aim of starting again in 2016.
“We have put in so much planning already with regards to sorting out routes, dealing with authorities and logistics, all we would need is an investor to help out with the finances,” said Jackie Lange. “A lot of people have sacrificed so much to make this race happen. It’s not just those who work on the event, but the towns we go through that will lose out on the economic and tourism benefits that come from hosting an international stage with TV and media coverage. It’s not just a blow for South African cycling, but for other communities in these tough times.”
Last year the race began in Johannesburg, moved to Clarens in the eastern Free State before returning to Johannesburg for the finale. MTN Qhubeka dominated, with some of the riders who rode in the Mzansi Tour, such as Louis Meintjies and Jacques Janse van Rensburg, then going on to impress at the Tour of Spain, which, along with the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, is one of the three Grand Tours of cycling.
International and South African teams have already been in contact with the organisers expressing an interest in taking part in 2015, and the organisers fear they may have bad news for them.
“We started the race because we identified South Africa was in desperate need of a top ‘home’ stage race,” said Malcolm Lange. “South Africa is the top cycling nation in Africa, and yet was the only one without its own tour. We need a race that will enable South Africans to earn UCI points to help the country qualify more riders for the World Championships and Olympics. The Mzansi Tour fulfils that need. Losing it, even for just one year, could be devastating to the development of the country as cycling power. We need a new sponsor or sponsors, and soon.”
Cathsseta Yellow Jersey
2014: Jacques J van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka)
2013: Robbie Hunter (RSA National)