Team Bestmed-ASG will be focused on having a big influence on the South African cycling scene this year after developing an outfit of elite riders.
First on their agenda will be the SA National Road Championships in Wellington this week where team leader and Olympian An-Li Kachelhoffer will be aiming to retain her road race title on Saturday.
“Even though it is a big challenge to retain the national title, we are gunning for that this weekend. From then on we will use a number of races to sharpen us for our big ones in March.”
Botha said they would be striving to form a strong, cohesive unit under Belgian manager Steven Sergeant which could make their presence felt.
“All the riders are elites and the aim is to support An-Li, who has all the credentials to do well.
“But she also wants to pass on her knowledge to the other riders to help them in their careers.
Besides signing Kachelhoffer, he said they had also brought in Zanele Tshoko and Skye Davidson.
“We have been keen to get Zanele to join us but she was committed elsewhere in the past two years,” he said.
After seeing her in action, Botha said he had been impressed with Davidson’s climbing ability even though she was relatively tall.
“We needed someone like that to assist An-Li to provide some protection. Skye has a very good CV and plenty of energy.”
Botha added that they had also signed Bernette Beyers but she was currently in Switzerland on a training programme to improve her track cycling skills. She is due to return in April.
The team made their debut at the Bestmed Berge en Dale Championship on Saturday, where Kachelhoffer came second in a sprint finish.
As the senior rider in the team, Kachelhoffer said she saw her role more in a mentoring capacity than anything else.
“I know it can’t go on forever and I would like to take this chance to give some help to the younger riders,” she said.
“We want them to learn about a team environment and how a professional women’s outfit is run.”
She said she wanted to impart her experience of riding in Europe on the younger riders so they knew what to expect when competing overseas.
Kachelhoffer added that the Berge en Dale in Muldersdrift on the West Rand had been about more than just the final result.
“For example, Chante (Van der Merwe) was exposed to a sprint finish for a first time in a women’s race, so it’s those situations we want them to experience.
“Now when she is in that situation again, she will be a bit more comfortable about her ability.”
The team members are An-Li Kachelhoffer, Chante van der Merwe, Nina Sender, Zanele Tshoko, Nicolene Marais, Sanet Coetzee, Skye Davidson, Lynette Benson and Bernette Beyers.
The management staff are Owen Botha (manager), Steven Sergeant (sporting director road), Peter Lambert (sporting director track) and Linda Warren (assistant sports director).