The MTN professional cycling team will add a women's team led by Cherise Taylor and Marissa van der Merwe for 2008. The pair will be joined by Chrissie Viljoen, Altie Clark and Cashandra Slingerland. It's not only MTN's first women's professional team, but also the first-ever fully professional South African women's team..
"Only a handful of female cyclists in South Africa currently earn their living from cycling and no single team has ever had the budget to ensure all its members can focus on cycling," said MTN Cycling team boss, Douglas Ryder according to www.int.iol.co.za. "The MTN women's team will set a new standard, not only for sponsorship in cycling, but for other sports too."
The 18 year-old Taylor, who won silver at the 2007 junior world championship, has a reputation as a solid all-arounder with ability to climb, time trial and sprint. Van der Merwe was named 2005 Most Promising Women's road cyclist of the year as well as Women's Road Cyclist of the Year.
"It's a very well balanced team," said Clark. "The variety and depth of talent is amazing and sure to be a good recipe for success. We also all get along really well which is essential for harmony both on and off the bike." The team's primary objective will be the Cycling South Africa Pro Series, a points series based on up to a dozen events.
MTN sponsors men's road and mountain bike squads, but it is the first time it will sponsor a women's team. The men's team recently signed David George to bolster its ranks.
MTN Women's Road Team for 2008: Marissa van der Merwe, Cherise Taylor, Cashandra Slingerland, Altie Clark, Chrissie Viljoen under Manager Thinus van der Merwe.