A new force in South African mountain biking, in the form of the DCM Chrome team, has been gathering momentum over the past few months. With 10 riders, mostly up-and-coming, the new team is officially complete.
"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," said team owner and mining executive Ian van der Walt, CEO of DCM Chrome, an international chrome and manganese mining business.
"The team 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," said van der Walt, a passionate cyclist himself.
Brandon Stewart, Max Knox, Ben-Melt Swanepoel and Jacques Janse van Rensburg form a formidable quartet that mixes young talent and seasoned class. Their priority disciplines will be 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.
Rourke Croeser, Bryce Munro and Adriaan Louw are three top male teenage talents backing them up. Justice Makhale, South Africa's top black mountain bike racer, is also on the team which boasts two women: Yolandi du Toit, who is making a smooth transition from a road career and Shannon van der Walt, an aspiring marathoner.
Van der Walt's philosophy is one that embraces giving the riders the required tools and appropriate preparation and support to be able to reach their potential. Where necessary, Van der Walt purchases equipment to ensure the riders have the best bikes and gear available. The riders have a full-time cycling-specific coaching service and they will race Cannondale Taurine SL bikes with custom-built DT Swiss wheelsets.
The team's race schedule will include high profile South African races such as the Cape Epic and the National Cross-country and Marathon Series events as well as major international events, including the UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, the Sea Otter Classic in California and the BC Bike Race in Canada.
"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."
DCM Chrome will also serve as title sponsor for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup round from April 10-12. It is also one of cross country world champion Christoph Sauser's personal sponsors.
Team DCM Chrome: Max Knox, Brandon Stewart, Ben-Melt Swanepoel, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Justice Makhale, Bryce Munro, Rourke Croeser, Adriaan Louw, Yolandi du Toit, Shannon van der Walt with Manager Kandice Buys, Coach Bruce Diesel and Technical Supporter Doug Paterson.