This time next week, I will be taking part in the Tour de Free State with my Lotto Belisol team, in the Free State province, South Africa. The tour marks a milestone in cycling in South Africa, Africa and internationally as:
- It is the first UCI Women’s raod cycling tour in South Africa.
- It has contributed to the growth of women’s cycling in South Africa, Africa and more importantly worldwide as it has filled a very obvious gap in the UCI Women’s cycling calendar.
- It provides a great opportunity for nations to increase their international rankings before the UCI’s deadline for Olympic qualification on 31 May.
- The tour helps small town charities and schools to raise funds and awareness.
- The tour helps promote tourism in the beautiful South African province of the Free State.
- The tour exposes African cyclists to cycling competition at an international level, by making it more accessible to them.
- The tour contributes to the UCI goal of globalizing cycling by promoting racing across all continents.
The UCI 2.1 Women’s Tour de Free State starts on Wednesday, 23 May and finishes in the beautiful town of Clarens on Sunday, 27 May. Here is a summary of the stages:
Stage 1, 23 May: Willem Pretorius Game Reserve – Virginia – Theunissen – Brandfort, 112km
Stage 2, 24 May: Jagersfontein – Bloemfontein, 100km
Stage 3, 26 May: Clarens – Bethlehem – Fouriesburg – Clarens, 120km
Stage 4, 27 May: Kestell – Phuthaditjhaba – Clarens, 94km
The Tour de Free State is particularly significant to me as an individual, as I grew up in Bloemfontein, the city of roses. I completed my schooling career at Eunice High School for girls in 2003. I am proud of my Eunice heritage and the role my schooling career played in forming me as an individual and professional athlete, and I am proud to be able to share that with the girls. Eunice girls will be supporting along route on Thursday 24 May, when Stage 2 finishes on top of Naval Hill in the city of Bloemfontein.
The tour also plays a very important part in the South African national team’s Olympic campaign and objective to qualify three riders to represent the country at the London Olympic Games in July and August.
Tour de Free State – Feel it! A free state of mind.