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Tour de Free State 2013

Yesterday During his budget vote speech in the Free State legislature held in Ventersburg, the MEC (Member of the Executive Council) for Economic development tourism and environmental affairs, Mr. Mosebenzi Zwane confirmed that later this year the Free State Tourism Authority would host the Tour de Free State. The dates for the event has been set now from the 25th to the 29th of September!

Congratulations Sarah Storey

We would like to congratulate Sarah Storey with her great performance at the Paralympics of 2012.

This phenomenal woman has won five gold medals as a swimmer and six as a cyclist over the years.

She is truely an inspiration for everyone.

2nd Annual Tour de Free State on Youtube

Watch what happened at the 2nd Annual Tour de Free State right here on our site

Watch the videos that was taken at the 2nd Annual Tour de Free State below:

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio reports from the Olympics

My Olympic Experience

As a young girl, my favourite movie was the 1978 film International Velvet by Bryan Forbes. The film follows the story of a young girl, Sarah Brown, who overcomes life’s adversities to fulfill her dream of competing at the Olympic Games. In the film she represents Great Britain in the Equestrian Three Day event and helps her country win the team competition. I watched the film many times over
and it inspired me. I dreamed of one day representing my country at the Olympic Games. Today that dream is realised and my Olympic experience has been somewhat surreal. The London Olympic Games has been everything I dreamt it to be and more!

The Olympic Village

The Village is a little world of it’s own, equipped with everything one could possibly imagine, from gyms, to hairdressers, to dentists, to any kind of food you can possibly imagine.

The most impressive of all is the Food Hall. It is enormous and caters for just about all tastes and ethnic groups, with a selection of food from China, India, Africa, the America’s, Europe and of course Great Britain to name a few.

Although the huge selection of food can make meal choices rather difficult, once you have finally decided what to eat, you never know who you might end up sitting next to. During my stay in the Village I had the opportunity of dining with the likes of Lleyton Hewitt and Sir Chris Hoy to name a few.

Walking around the Village amongst a select field of the World’s best athletes is a surreal experience in itself. You never quite know which famous sports star you might walk past next, but I must admit; in real life, it is rather hard to recognize them.

Our accommodation

Team South Africa stayed in an apartment block called Heritage in the Olympic Village. Team South Africa consists of 125 athletes, small in comparison to the bigger nations like the United States of America, which boasts a total of 529 athletes. As a result, South Africa shared an apartment block with Spain and the Dominican Republic.

My teammates, Robyn de Groot, Joanna Van De Winkel and I shared a two bedroomed apartment, equipped with an on suite bathroom and a small lounge. Our apartment was very comfortable and we quickly made ourselves at home in the Village.

Team South Africa was lucky enough to be located very centrally in the Village. We were situated about 500m from the Main Dining Hall, the Gym, the Village Centre and the Village Hospital. We were also lucky enough to have a little Snack Shack just outside out apartment block entrance. These little Snack Shacks were sporadically placed around the village and had a great selection of ready made sandwiches, salads, muffins, fruit and of course, great coffee.

The Road Race – Sunday 29 July

The height of excitement, hard work and commitment, and the height of disappointment, all in the space of 4 hours! That sums up my Olympic Road Race experience!

Unfortunately no medal for South Africa at the London 2012 Games, but in keeping with the Spirit of the Games, we gave it all on the day! We fought hard in tough conditions, both Robyn and Jo
encountered much bad luck, crashing at critical times in the race, and I’m proud of our efforts!

I felt strong on the day, I raced hard up Box Hill and I thought I had everything under control, until a sneaky break slipped off the front on the final Box Hill descent. Marianne Vos, Lizzie
Armitstead, Olga Zabalinskaya and Shelley Olds got away.

Despite a huge effort by Germany and Italy to chase, the break away was never caught. Shelley Olds punctured out of the break, Mariaane Vos won, Lizzie Armitstead finished 2nd and Olga Zabalinskaya 3rd. I finished 16th in the chasing bunch 27 seconds down on the winner.

The Olympic Women’s Road Race was a great display of women’s cycling at it’s best! A hard, aggressive race and despite the weather conditions, the support out on the London roads was absolutely amazing! I have never experienced such huge crowds supporting a women’s race before. The roads were packed from start to finish, a first for women’s cycling.

The Time Trial – Wednesday 1 August

I finished 24th in the Olympic Individual Time Trial. I had no big expectations; my intention was to use the Time Trial to gain experience for future Olympic Games. Time Trial at this level is a very specialist event. I didn’t do any specific preparation for the Olympic Time Trial, and unfortunately I suffered mechanical issues on the day.

Taking on women who have spent four years and many trips to the wind tunnel to prepare for this event alone, was always going to be a challenge. I have lots of room for improvement and I will use the experience gained in the Time Trial to move forward in a positive way.

Moving Forward

My London 2012 experience has been filled with a whirlwind of emotions, from crying one moment, to laughing the next. Although there have been many ups and downs over the past two weeks, I’ve done my best to soak up the vibe of the Games. What a wonderful experience it has been, I have met some amazing people and at the end of it all, I’m left overwhelmed by a feeling of excitement and thankfulness. I feel inspired!

The feeling of disappointment has quickly been replaced by a feeling of anticipation for what the future holds. I’m confident I have the strength and the talent to medal at the Olympic Games and my Olympic dream is still very much alive. I now have one Olympic Road Race and Time Trial experience in the bank and I look forward to Rio 2016!

A big lesson learnt from my London 2012 experience is that an Olympic medal requires a long-term plan. It takes four years of hard work, commitment and national support to realise this dream. Planning for Rio 2016 has already begun and I won’t give up until I have fulfilled my dream of an Olympic podium.

I’m thankful for this amazing opportunity I’ve been blessed with and the wonderful support and encouragement I’ve received to get this far. Thanks for the ongoing support and encouragement! London 2012 would not have been possible without every one of you! Onwards and upwards to Rio 2016!

Watch the Tour de Free State on our site

Watch what happened at the 2nd Annual Tour de Free State right here on our site

Watch the official Tour de Free State video below.

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Press Release: Overall report

Starting with an opening ceremony at Tikwe Lodge in Virginia on 22 May to celebrate the international flavour of this year’s event, the Tour de Free State definitely focused the world’s attention on the province’s tourism treasures and its ability to host events of international standard.

Only in its second year, this event managed to obtain international accreditation from the International Cycling Union (UCI) and was selected as the only Olympic qualifying road cycling race in Africa. Thus the vision of the Free State Tourism Authority to draw the focus to the province’s tourism potential through hosting the event had been validated. This year cyclist from 19 nations participated in the event, resulting in international exposure and tapping into a new market for this province.

Eco-orientated tourism has taken on like wild fire across the world. Travellers want to experience the outdoors from a different vantage point. There is no better way than doing it on a bicycle. Access to the local people and places of interest are more direct and tourists have the freedom to experience it and nature on a more intimate level than from a tour bus, dictating where you go, isolating you from the environment and the local inhabitants. Tour de Free State increased the amount of towns involved in this venture from six last year to twelve this year. Bicycles were donated to tour operators and agencies in towns to enable them to be part of the Kasie Tours project, taking tourists to the townships to experience the social life, visit interesting and historical places and experiencing community projects first hand.

An extra bonus of this event is that the Tour de Free State helped small town charities and schools to raise funds and awareness and to promote cycling among learners as more than sixty bicycles were donated to five schools who will be assisted by Cycling South Africa in driving a development programme for young cyclists in the province. The tour also aimed to promote tourism in the beautiful South African province of the Free State with the international exposure it enjoyed. Community races were held in Brandfort, Ficksburg and Clarens.

Lining up at the starting point of the race were four of the world’s top professional teams, Teams HiTech (Sweden Norway, France, Italy and Poland), Lotto Belisol (South Africa and Belgium), RusVelo (Russia and Germany) and DolmansBoel (Netherlands) Riding for these teams were no less than eighteen cyclists ranked in the UCI top-hundred. Forty-six cyclists were UCI ranked and many represented their country’s top ranked cyclists. The prize for these women was points for the Olympic Games, scoring as many as they can to advance their nation’s position. A total amount of €15 932 were given away in prize money. The money was divided between the top fifteen cyclists in each stage of the race.

The organization of this event involved a nightmare of logistics. Over the five days, 3800 meals was served, 1650 beds occupied, 120 organisers, officials and helpers and emergency personnel employed, 34 cars and 8 motorbikes utilised, ten small and 1 big tent went up every day of the race, 800 meters of fencing erected per day and 3250 litres of water consumed, 50 road signs erected per day and 1150 posters distributed. Moving everything along and making sure everything was at the correct location at the correct time was a major feet.

The South Africans riding for Team Lotto Belisol, aiming to qualify a third team member for the Olympic Games, had an up-hill battle as their star cyclist, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, a former Free Stater and Eunice Girls High learner, were targeted from the start. Team HiTech Products Mistral Home and the Ukrainians, who were competing for the same points in their Olympic quest, combined their strength to keep Lotto Belisol’s domestics from easing Moolman’s way to the finishing line in each and every stage. They were determined to get her to the top though and on the last day they attacked relentlessly with Robyn de Groot taking the lead as they entered the mountainous Golden Gate Nature Reserve giving Moolman in the pack to safe her energy for the chase to the finishing line. The other teams succeeded to isolate Moolman again and she was left in the front crossing the last big climb. She broke away earlier at about 200 meters before the five kilometre mark and this time the South African wearing the Africa jersey crossed the finishing line first to the elation of the crowd supporting her en masse.

The Tour de Free State’s overall winner was Sweden’s Emma Johansson who completed the four stages, totalling 363.5 km in 10 hours, 45 minutes and 11 seconds. Hanka Kupfernagel from Germany, riding for Team RusVelo from Russia came second with only five minutes separating them and third was South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, 26 seconds behind the winner.

The Men’s Open Elite did not get as much attention as the WE2.1, but the country’s top men’s teams were all there to compete. The Tour de Free State introduced a new format for this event. Instead of elapsed time, the standard format for stage races, the 2012 Tour de Free State followed a points system, rewarding the most consistent top daily finishers. It resulted in a dominant performance by top South African men’s professional road cycling outfit, Team Bonitas, who won all four stages and successfully defended Johann Rabie’s overall title at the weekend.

The final stage caused great excitement among spectators as it was a spectacle of speed and tactics. The top 10 riders on General Classification contest a unique pursuit-style race around the Clarens town square. Riders were positioned 45 metres apart with the 10th placed rider at the front and the top-placed rider at the rear. Once a rider was passed, he was eliminated. Rabie won this pursuit stage and earned the 50 points on offer, giving him the highest points total and the overall win.

The Tour de Free State 2012 marked a milestone in cycling in South Africa, Africa and internationally as it was the first UCI Women’s road cycling tour on the African continent. It contributed to the growth of women’s cycling, not only locally but worldwide as it filled a very obvious gap in the UCI Women’s cycling calendar. Thus the tour contributed to the UCI goal of globalizing cycling by promoting racing across all continents. South African women cyclists were exposed to competing at an international level and gaining valuable experience, by making a UCI event more accessible to them.  The Tour de Free State also provided the last opportunity for nations to increase their international rankings before the UCI’s deadline for Olympic qualification on 31 May.

The overall consensus of the cyclists was that the Tour de Free State was well organised and they were impressed with the security and the conduct of the traffic officers escorting them.  Emma Johansson said: “We were here to compete, but we were also aware of the amazingly beautiful landscapes we were cycling through. We enjoyed the scenery which is totally different from what we are accustomed to and that made it an unforgettable experience.”

Issued by Carin van Vuuren
Media Liaison: PelaPela Events and Marketing
Tel: 0832392890
Image: www.cyclenation.co.za
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The winners of the Tour de Free State WE2.1

The winners of the Tour de Free State WE2.1 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio from South Africa for Team Lotto Belisol, overall number 3 and Africa Winner, Emma Johansson from Sweden for Team HiTech Mistrel Home overall winner and Hanka Kupfernagel from Germany for Team RusVelo, second overall.

UCI Women’s Tour in Africa Welcomed With Open Arms

11 May 2012 – The phenomenal success of the inaugural 2011 Tour de Free State has opened the doors for the second running of the annual event to be featured as a UCI 2.1 WE race by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), making it the only Olympic qualifying road cycling race for women in Africa.

Besides being the first ever UCI Women’s road cycling tour in South Africa, the 5-day tour that runs from 23rd to 27th May is also the last opportunity for nations to increase their national rankings before the UCI’s May 31st deadline for the qualification of London Olympic Games places.

Currently, South Africa is the 17th ranked nation with 241,5 points. As it stands today, Brazil are sitting in the 13th place ‘hot seat’ with 287 points, leaving the South African women with about 46 points to make the grade.

Be rest assured that the nations trailing SA in the rankings will be out in full force to bump us out of contention, so the competition in less than 2 weeks will be tough and at its best.

“The top five teams on the UCI Women’s Elite road cycling national rankings can send 4 riders to the Olympics,” says Barry Austin, Cycling South Africa’s national road manager and Olympic code manager. “Teams 6 to 13 can send 3 riders and teams 14 to 23 can send two.

“The Tour de Free State will see battles for the top 13, as in South Africa’s case as we are striving to qualify 3 riders for the Olympics, as well as fierce competition for the final five places, with the likes of Sweden and Russia vying for those points to send 4 riders instead of three.

“So the impact is great, but also fair as we have to deserve our slots, but having the race on home ground will be a major benefit,” adds Austin.

Although there will be a major focus on the women’s UCI Elite racing, the Open Elite races will be open for participation to men’s professional teams and to amateur road racing teams.

For the UCI and Open Elite races, participants can register through Cycling South Africa’s website at the following link: http://csams.cyclingsa.com/enter-an-event.aspx

In addition, community races of 10km will be staged to provide communities the opportunity to raise money for local charities and schools by cyclists obtaining sponsors for the amount of kilometers they complete. Interested parties and schools can get the forms from info@tourdefreestate.com

The Tour de Free State is an ambitious initiative, aiming to unlock and demonstrate the Free State tourism potential through cycling to national and international audiences.

 

Tour de Free State Race Schedule – 23-27 May 2012

Day 1: 23 May
UCI race – Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve (Winburg), Virginia, Theunissen, ends Brandfort
Community race – Brandfort

Day 2: 24 May
UCI race – Jagersfontein, ends Bloemfontein

Day 3: 25 May
Elite open – Clarens
Community race – Ficksburg

Day 4: 26 May
UCI & Elite open – Clarens, Bethlehem, Fouriesburg, ends Clarens
Community race – Clarens

Day 5: 27 May
UCI & Elite open – Clarens, Phuthaditjhaba, ends Clarens

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Tour de Free State helps small town charities and schools to raise funds and awareness

The Second Annual Tour de Free State gives communities the opportunity to raise funds for local charities and schools through the community races in Brandfort (23 May), Ficksburg (25 May) and Clarens (26 May).

This initiative by the Free State Tourism Authority to promote the Free State as a tourism destination and to give exposure to the various tourism attractions in the Free State has already grown from including six towns last year to 12 towns this year and the aim is to involve 24 towns next year.

This is the ideal opportunity to raise funds in a fun and healthy way to help those less fortunate than you. Schools, senior citizen homes, churches and social welfare organizations can participate in this project to raise funds for a specific purpose by getting volunteers to ride on their behalf and to get sponsors for their ride. Sponsors can decide on an amount they are willing to spend per kilometre which a volunteer completes

It is a family event in which everyone can participate and to make it even more fun they can dress up or decorate their bicycles to raise awareness for their charity. Local businesses can advertise themselves by sponsoring a charity whose volunteers can dress in branded clothing. The opportunities are endless and it is an easy and cost effective way to raise funds as your expenses are very low. Entry fees are R10 per individual cyclist.

Organizations of schools which are interested can contact the Tour de Free State at 0741 555777 or request the registration form buy clicking here.

 

 

 

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Teams to stay and ride at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Permission was granted yesterday to use the Golden Gate Highlands National Park for the race.

It was formally announced on the 19th of March by the MEC responsible for Tourism in the Free State, Me M Qabathe, that the Free State Tourism authority will once again sponsor the annual  “Tour De Free State” International cycle race, to be held between 23rd and 27th May 2012 across the Free State.

This year we will be staying at the Golden Gate Hotel in the Eastern Free State during day 3 and 4 of the race.

For more info on the park, visit www.sanparks.org.za