South Africa's Team CVT/CSC is looking forward to the challenge of racing against the country's best riders in this weekend's Liberty Life Criterium. With a first prize of ZAR50,000 (USD7,500/EUR6,200) and a total of ZAR107,000 (USD16,100/EUR13,300) in prize money up for grabs, the invitation-only Criterium is the richest event of its kind ever to be held in South Africa.
An amateur team, CVT/CSC will find itself up against South Africa's pro squads in the Liberty Life Criterium, but team manager Chris Willemse Snr is unfazed. "I believe that our Cape riders are good enough to beat the Gauteng-based pro teams," he said. "We will be sending five of our best riders - Wesley Cole, Chris Willemse Jnr, Jayson Berry (still battling with an arm injury), Craig Butland and Simon Brown - to compete in this prestigious and exciting event."
According to Willemse, Wesley Cole - who won the Ratanga Junction Criterium held at the end of May but missed out on this past weekend's event as a result of flu - will start as one of the favourites for the event.
Cole has performed well against some of the big names in national cycling. During recent competitions against the top Gauteng teams, he twice finished second to Microsoft's Malcolm Lange, once in the Street Mile in Port Elizabeth in February this year and in last year's OFS Classic.
"Willemse Jnr, Butland and Berry will have to protect Cole all the way; they will have to close all the breakaways," said Willemse Snr.