Words: Dave Macleod | Photo: Gameplan Media
At a time when women's road cycling is experiencing a drain of sponsors, the newly formed Time Freight VELOLife team is targeting the aQuellé Tour Durban on Monday 28 April to make a refreshingly bold statement about women's road cycling.
Led by team manager Johann Wykerd, the team is made up of some of the top road cyclists and mountain bikers, and is unashamedly proud of it's KwaZulu-Natal roots.
Team captain Lise Olivier says the team has also set about its tasks in a manner quite unlike any other team, to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued other professional women's teams.
"It's got to be fun," says Olivier candidly. "We have seen some of the other women's teams fall apart when it stops becoming fun, so we have carefully chosen this team based on performance and personality to make sure that it is fun."
"We are a bunch of girls passionate about riding our bikes," she summarises.
Olivier is the seasoned skipper of the outfit, and will shoulder much of the responsibility for guiding and mentoring the younger riders in the team. However she says the team ethos is selfless, and every rider will be willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team.
"We are all competitive and we would love to win this race," says Olivier. "It looks like we will start with a team of six for the race, and it is hard to say at this stage who we will try and set up for the win.
"Everyone is committed to the team cause, and what I like about the positive vibe is that the younger riders will ask if they can attack and not feel the pressure of expectations," she added. "It is exciting that we have quite a few cards that we can play in the race."
In all likelihood Olivier will lead a team made up of Annemie Kruger, Hazel Magill, Ashleigh Moffatt, Frankie du Toit, Alexandra Mapstone, and Carla van Huyssteen.
For Olivier personally, the aQuellé Tour Durban is a challenge that she is relishing, after her solitary previous attempt at the race ended with a mechanical.
"As a team we can't wait for the race," she said. "It's a great course and we love the vibe because we are a KZN team and the support makes such a difference."
The team focus on the aQuellé Tour Durban is a healthy injection of enthusiasm into women's cycling at national level, as many women's teams have faltered in recent years.
"What I appreciate is the compliments we are getting from our peers," said Olivier. "It is one thing to get compliments from friends and family, even the media, but when it comes from your peers, then you know something is going right with the team."
The aQuellé Tour Durban road races takes place on Monday 28 April 2014. More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za