Cellular network giant MTN has increased its commitment to South African cycling, by announcing a three-year sponsorship of mountain biking in South Africa, as well as becoming the official communications supplier to the Absa Cape Epic.
In November, 2007, MTN announced it’s sponsorship of a 5-woman professional team lead by Cherise Taylor and Marissa van der Merwe, who will be joined by Chrissie Viljoen, Altie Clark and Cashandra Slingerland.
From 2008 until 2010, MTN will be the joint title sponsor, with Mazda, of the national marathon racing series as well as the national cross-country and downhill racing series, covering all three major mountain biking disciplines.
"This support from MTN is going to help us take mountain bike racing in this country to a new level and bring our events and our riders closer and closer to the top international standards," said Theo Grobler, Director of the MTN Mazda Series.
"The additional sponsorship from MTN will allow us to have one sophisticated national numbering system for all major events which will help simplify the sport that is continuing to grow at an amazing rate. We’ll also be able raise the standard of events as well as increase prize money and expand media coverage, which will benefit riders and sponsors."
There are seven events in the 2008 MTN Mazda Marathon Series, including the South African championships. In the national cross-country and downhill series, there are five events, including the national championships for those disciplines.
Cross-country is the only mountain biking discipline at the Olympic Games and with the Beijing Games just seven months away, much media attention will be focused on this discipline.
MTN’s support of the Absa Cape Epic will ensure the company’s association with mountain biking reaches international status too, significant for MTN which has a presence in other African and Middle Eastern countries.
"The Absa Cape Epic, the world’s biggest mountain bike stage race, will now, thanks to MTN’s support, be able to offer participants, supporters and officials GSM network coverage throughout the race," said Jacques Hattingh, MTN Senior Manager: Customer Satisfaction.
The nine-day event, which starts in Knysna and finishes at Lourensford Estate, Somerset West, visits some remote areas, many of which are outside of existing cellular signal range. According to Hattingh, from 2008, this will no longer be a concern for MTN clients and the race participants.
"Besides financial support, we are pleased to be able to offer our company’s service support to mountain biking. It’s in line with MTN’s philosophy of adding value to cycling and cyclists on a variety of levels."
2008 Mtn Mazda National Cup Cross-Country / Downhill Series:
ABSA Cape Epic: 28 March-5 April