Some of South Africa's top mountain bikers, including the Garmin-adidas team (formerly known as Garmin DCM) will gather in the hills of Stellenbosch to kick off the new season and battle for points at the first round of of the MTN Cup Series in Jonkershoek this Saturday.
Executive director of Garmin South Africa, Jason Theunissen, announced the line up of the team and confirmed that Garmin and adidas had signed a three-year sponsorship deal. The team will be based in South Africa and will focus on races like Cape Epic, Subaru Sani2C and the National series, but will also include an international stint in conjunction with the team's European partner adidas with races still to be confirmed.
The star rider on the team is none other than "Mr African" himself - Mannie Heymans - who has in his career won the 1998 Trans Alp eight-day stage race, the African Championships in 1999, 2001 & 2003, also the 2004 Cape Epic, as well as finished a credible 26th at the Sydney Olympic Games. Heymans will be paired with compatriot Marc Bassingthwaighte who stands to gain from the vast experience Heymans has built up over his illustrious career.
The addition of the two Pretoria-based youngsters Philip Buys and Francois Theron proves the team's investment in future talent. Both riders have done exceptionally well in their short careers and at only 20 years old, have the potential to become household names in the next three years.
Recent Pick n Pay MTB Cycle Challenge winner Samantha Oosthuysen is the only woman on the team. She finished off her 2008 season with a series of wins that catapulted her into the spotlight and confirmed her spot in the team for 2009.
Former Barloworld rider Jock Green commented that the team is just as well looked after, if not better, than he was when he was based in Europe.
Garmin-adidas roster for 2009: Mannie Heymans (Namibia), Marc Bassingthwaighte (Namibia), Francois Theron (RSA), Philip Buys (RSA), Jock Green (RSA), Samantha Oosthuysen (South Africa), Renato Albrecht (South Africa), Shaun Mackenzie (South Africa).