African cellular network giant MTN expanded its sponsorship of mountain bike racing in South Africa by taking over as the title sponsor of the country's National Mountain Bike Series for 2009 and 2010.
In 2008 MTN had joined Mazda as a co-sponsor of the 12-event series, which had been sponsored solely by Mazda for six years since its inception.
"MTN is proud to build upon its commitment to cycling in South Africa and the sport of mountain biking through the acquisition of the full title rights for the Mazda MTN National Mountain Bike Series," said Senior Manager Anthony Garstang, who hopes to grow the number of participants in the series.
"Mazda has been a strong supporter of mountain biking in South Africa and has contributed a great deal to the development of the discipline. MTN is appreciative of the time and resources that Mazda dedicated to the series over the past seven years and will endeavor to build upon the foundation it created as we take the MTN National MTB Series forward."
For the next two years, the National Mountain Bike Series will be known as the MTN National Mountain Bike Series. It comprises a five-event National Cup Series of cross-country and downhill events, including the national championships, and a seven-event National Marathon Series, including the national championships. With more than 9,000 participants, it is the largest and most prestigious mountain bike series in Africa.
All the events in the National Cup Series are UCI categorized, which means the top finishers will earn important international rankings points.
"It is exciting to see a huge corporation like MTN investing in our sport and seeing the potential," said Fritz Pienaar MTN National Mountain Bike Series Director. "I believe that their increased commitment will grow mountain biking in general and the series in particular."
2009 South African MTN National Cup Series
January 10-11: Round 1 - Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, Western Cape (XCO/DHI)
February 7-8: Round 2 - Mankele, Mombela, Mpumalanga (XCO/DHI)
March 14-15: Round 3 - South African National Championships, George, Western Cape (XCO/DHI)
April 4-5: Round 4 - Cascades, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal (XCO/DHI)
May 23-24: Round 5 - Fountains, Pretoria, Gauteng (XCO/DHI)
2009 South African MTN National Marathon Series
January 24: Round 1 - Barberton, Mpumalanga (XCM)
April 26: Round 2 - Chandelier, Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
June 13: Round 3 - Induna, Hazyview, Mpumalanga
August 8: Round 4 - National Championships, N3TC Dirty Harry, Harrismith, Free State
August 30: Round 5 - Blockhouse, Walkerville, Gauteng
October 3: Round 6 - Clarens, Free State
November 7: Round 7 - Fifty Miler, Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal
For more information on the MTN National Mountain Bike Series, visit www.cyclesport.co.za