South African professional road cycling, still reeling at the news of the cancellation of two premier international events next year, was given a timely morale-boost on Thursday with the announcement of the new Alpha Pharm Seeding Series.
Using the existing 15 events that contribute to the Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour's participant seeding system, the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series will reward the top Elite and Under-23 men and women with a prize purse of R200 000 at the end of 2009.
Following the recent cancellation of the 2009 World's View Challenge and the Tour of South Africa events, local professional teams have been left short of new challenges on the domestic circuit for next year, which is why the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series has been well received.
"It's always great to have a new sponsor in the sport and local racing will no doubt become more interesting and strategic with a long-term prize on offer," said MTN Energade team owner, Douglas Ryder. "In 2009 we'll have a bigger number of professional teams contesting the local events and the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series will help raise the profile of the professional racing which can only be positive for the sport."
The 2009 Alpha Pharm Seeding Series will start with the Herald Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on February 1 and end with Die Burger Cycle Tour in Stellenbosch on November 29. The official prize giving function will be held at the 2010 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.
The Alpha Pharm Seeding Series 2009 will include the following races:
February 1: Herald Cycle Tour, Port Elizabeth
February 14: Construction du Cap 99er, Durbanville
February 15: Dischem Ride For Sight, Boksburg
February 22: Daily Dispatch / Felt Cycle Tour, East London
March 8: Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, Cape Town
July 5: Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna Cycle Tour, Knysna
July 15: Medihelp Jock Cycle Classique, Nelspruit
September 5: Kumba Iron Ore Classic, Upington
September 13: Powerade Dome 2 Dome Cycling Spectacular, Johannesburg
October 18: Pick n Pay Amashovashova National Classic, Durban
October 24: Telkom Satellite Cycle Classic, Pretoria
November 1: Pick n Pay OFM Cycle Classic, Bloemfontein
November 7: AGA Cycle Challenge, Orkney
November 15: Pick n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge, Johannesburg
November 29: Die Burger Cycle Tour, Stellenbosch