Exxaro Academy Riders Successful
was easy to spot Sipho Nkosi, Chief Executive Officer of Exxaro, at the finish
of the Absa Cape Epic's last stage at Lourensford on April 1.
He was the guy who walked about with a broad smile. And he certainly had good
reason to smile. The riders of the Exxaro Mountain Bike Academy unexpectedly
ended up being the unsung heroes of the Absa Cape Epic. They were supposed to
be the apprentices whose only goal was to learn what mountain biking is all
about. But within five days of racing, they became fully fledged mountain
bikers who were capable of racing with some of the world's best, occasionally
even beating much more experienced riders.
Exxaro Development Jersey Final Podium
Sipho Madolo and Azukile Simayile finished 57th overall in the pro-elite men's
category. Philemon Sebona and William Mokgopo finished 73rd overall and Jan
Montshioa and Thokozane Mahlangu were 75th. Sebona and Mokgopo caused quite a
stir when they finished 29th and 30th in the 6th and 7th stages respectively.
When he was told how important it was for the riders to give a good account of
themselves in order to make the decision makers of Exxaro proud, Nkosi said it
was a humbling experience.
"I never expected this to happen. I thought they would just race, taking
the odd tumble, while learning what mountain biking is all about. The Absa Cape
Epic was a totally new experience for all of them, so it stands to reason that
they would battle during the first few stages. What was really impressive was
how quickly they picked up on what it takes to race with the front riders. The
last few days of racing really warms my heart, especially if one takes into
account where they come from. Watch this space. Within the next three years you
will see these guys riding from the front more often."
Nkosi has big plans for the Academy's riders, "In the near future we will give some of them the opportunity to race internationally. We are also looking at scholarships for them so that they can continue with their studies. It is certainly not only about sport for us. It is about the whole person. We want to give these youngsters a better chance in life."