Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling will return to defend their title at the 947 Cycle Challenge on November 20 in Johannesburg but without last year's winner Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. The South African rider is currently recovering from a broken hip sustained after colliding with a race vehicle during the Chrono des Nations time trial in October. The team will look to Lotta Lepistö for a top result this year.
The team will be closing their season in South Africa for the second year in a row at the UCI 1.1 ranked Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge, where Moolman-Pasio's victory bumped her up into the top 10 world ranking last year.
The team will be adding the new Queen Nandi Challenge and Queen Sibiya Classic to their calendar to finish off the season. The two one-day races form part of the inaugural KZN Summer Series and take place on November 16 and November 17, respectively, before travelling to Johannesburg for the 947 Cycle Challenge.
This year's team will include Clara Koppenburg, Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin and Nicole Hanselmann at the KZN race series, and will be joined by Lepistö for 947 Cycle Challenge. Lepistö last raced at the UCI Road World Championships, where she secured the bronze medal behind winner Amalie Dideriksen and silver medallist Kirsten Wild in the elite women's road race.
"For us it's important to help develop women's cycling in Africa. There is a lot of talent and there's great racing, which keeps growing. There's a week of UCI racing and this is great. We love to come over and get great support from the organisers," said manager, Thomas Campana.
"Of course Ashleigh is South African and it's important that we honour the event and support the development of the sport. This is Ashleigh's vision so in her absence we're bringing Lotta Lepistö, one of the best riders in the world so you can see we take it seriously."