From nurturing young talent to giving the life-changing gift of education, the Exxaro Jersey competition has been one of the most meaningful and successful platforms of the Absa Cape Epic. The investment in developing black African riders has been sustained and meaningful and reason for a 10-year-partnership celebration in Johannesburg this week.
The Absa Cape Epic has provided a springboard for many different people over the years. Pro careers have been launched and forged in The Race That Measures All. Bikes, apparel, and equipment have been designed and developed specifically to withstand eight days of the Untamed African terrain. It has served as a canvas for the world’s best photographers and action sports broadcasters. It even turned a three-time winner into a live broadcast on-the-bike camera operator and commentator. Spectators don’t always get to see it all, however. And perhaps one of the most meaningful partnerships and successful platforms of the Absa Cape Epic, has been the Exxaro Special Jersey competition.
It all began in 2011, when three teams representing Exxaro completed the Absa Cape Epic on a fundraising ride. Together they managed to raise more than R1.5million. Not long thereafter, Exxaro – the large coal and heavy minerals mining company – joined the race as a headline sponsor. Part of the sponsorship agreement saw the launch of the Exxaro Special Jersey competition for the 2012 edition of the race.
This decade-long relationship was celebrated on Wednesday 16 February, in Sandton Johannesburg, as the winners and runners-up of the 2021 Absa Cape Epic Exxaro Special Jersey race were presented their prizes.
Luyanda Thobigunya and Lorenzo Leroux, of Fairtree Cannondale 1, completed the 2021 event in a time of 31:17:00 and secured first place in the Exxaro Special Jersey race. Second place was claimed by Exxaro/PWC 1’s Tlotlo Mohweledi Selala and Halalisani Njabulo Ndebele. The reward for their efforts was far greater than simply bragging rights thanks to the involvement of Curro Holdings and Stadio Higher Education.
Education has, since inception, been an important focus of the evolution of the Exxaro Special Jersey competition and in 2021 it was taken to new heights as Curro Holdings and Stadio Higher Education offered the winners, and runners up, of the race the choice of a bursary for a child for Grade 1 – Grade 12 at any Curro school in South Africa, or the opportunity to pursue a higher education qualification or diploma via one of Stadio’s Distance Learning Programmes.
Thobigunya and Mohweledi opted for the Curro bursaries to ensure that members of their family would benefit from the best possible education, while Leroux and Ndebele both selected the Stadio Distance Learning Programme as their prize to further their personal education.
Both Curro and Stadio have committed to sponsoring the same prizes to the winners and runners-up of the Exxaro Special Jersey competition at the 2022 Absa Cape Epic.
In addition to the life-changing prizes from Curro and Stadio, Thobigunya, Le Roux, Mohweledi and Ndebele also won a trip to the Bakala Sports Performance Academy in Belgium. At Bakala they will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the innovation and education of sports performance and training and benefit from up-to-date knowledge in sport sciences to exercise performance and training.
“The legacy of the Exxaro Jersey competition is one we can be proud of,” said Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgogo. “It has presented young people with opportunities they otherwise would never have had. It has motivated them to work hard, through the various academies that provided the means and the methodology to reach the Absa Cape Epic.
“While I love seeing riders from the Exxaro MTB Academy succeed, I’m as excited to watch the FNBChange a Life Academy, Velokhaya, songo.info, Fairtree Academy and McGregor Young Warriors winning. But I’m more excited to hear of their victories off the bike: Stories of riders going back to finish school, completing tertiary qualifications, finding, and thriving in good jobs,” he concluded.
The race for the bright green Exxaro Special Jerseys unfolds during the 2022 Absa Cape Epic from 20-27 March; be sure to tune in to the Live Broadcast on cape-epic.com.