Rapha Condor Sharp will be escaping the grey skies of Europe to start their season in the first-ever Cell C Tour of South Africa which begins February 19.
The British-based Continental team will be lead by Namibian Dan Craven, who came seventh in the recent Tropicale Amissa Bongo. Joining him will be former British National Road Race Champion, Kristian House, Australian Zak Dempster and Brits Graham Briggs, Ben Greenwood and Jonathan Tiernan-Locke.
The Cell C Tour of South Africa starts as an 8-day UCI 2.2 race, with plans to become a 9-day, 2.HC event within five years. Twenty teams from five continents will compete in the seven stages, with stages two and six being particularly hilly.
Craven, a former African Road Race Champion, will be aiming for the General Classification, as well as a stage win, and he has his eye on the stage for him.
"Stage 6 is a dream come true for me - although the climbs might be on the long side for my strengths, the roads that are used were all part of my regular training routes during my four years at Stellenbosch University. I have always dreamed about racing along some of these roads and really hope to put in a special showing on 'home turf'".
"Stages four, five and six all include a number of long climbs and I foresee the climbers coming to the fore and ripping things apart. Stage five's big climb is too far from the finish so it might actually come down to a bunch sprint, but stages four and six will certainly be contested from very small groups".
Team manager John Herety is confident that the race will not only provide opportunities for his riders, but will also be a solid base for the team’s European season.
"Our objectives for the race are two-fold, we have a very realistic chance of a stage win or top ten on G.C. with Dan Craven, who is highly motivated for this tour. We also want to come out of the race with some solid unhampered preparation for what is in effect the core of our stage race team for the season".