A new South African mountain bike team are hoping to make their mark on the world cross-country circuit this year.
The DCM Chrome squad will compete at major international events, including the Nissan UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, the Sea Otter Classic in California and the BC Bike Race in Canada.
They are also hoping for a strong showing at South African races like the Absa Cape Epic and the national cross-country and marathon series.
The 10 riders on the team are mostly up-and-coming youngsters. They will race on Cannondale Taurine SL bikes with custom-built DT Swiss wheelsets.
The team’s owner, mining executive Ian van der Walt, CEO of DCM Chrome, said: “There is so much mountain bike racing talent in this country and unfortunately a lot of that talent goes to waste because riders lack the means to train scientifically, ride the most appropriate equipment and compete at events that offer high international standards.
“Well, DCM Chrome plans to change that by giving talented riders full support in every respect and making sure they ride the races that matter, both in South Africa and abroad.”
Team members Brandon Stewart, Max Knox, Ben-Melt Swanepoel and Jacques Janse van Rensburg will specialise in marathon and stage racing, but Stewart, Knox and Swanepoel are all accomplished cross-country racers too, while Van Rensburg splits his racing between mountain biking and a promising road racing career.
Backing them are the top three teenage racers in the country, Rourke Croeser, Bryce Munro and Adriaan Louw, as well as Justice Makhale, South Africa’s top black mountain bike racer.
Shannon van der Walt (left) and Yolandi du Toit
The two women in the team are Yolandi du Toit, who is making the transition from a successful road racing career, and Shannon van der Walt, a young marathon racing prospect.
They will be managed by Kandice Buys, with coaching support from Bruce Diesel and technical support from Doug Paterson. The team will have a full-time, cycling-specific coaching service, which uses PowerTap’s power training system.
“We’ve had a good start to the year with a number of podium finishes and we’d like to believe we have a good chance of getting plenty more this year, not just in South Africa, but abroad too,” said Van der Walt.
“Our team philosophy is all about nurturing young South African talent and we’ve got plenty of that in our ranks. Now it’s a matter of giving them the right opportunities to showcase that.”