David Maree is thrilled to be moving to the Vandergroup Continental team next year and is looking forward to scoring more UCI points and getting South Africa back to first in the Africa Tour rankings.
Maree, 29, was part of Vandergroup’s nine-man squad announced last week and is one of three riders who made the move from BCX, which is set to fold at the end of the year.
He will link up with long-time companions and teammates Nolan Hoffman and Steven van Heerden at Vandergroup, while renowned and experienced South African cyclist Bradley Potgieter has been appointed captain of the team.
Potgieter joined the team in April in a mentorship role and will remain in the set-up as they race Continental for the first time.
“For me this is quite exciting. It’s almost like a new chapter,” Maree told In the Bunch today.
“It will be a great opportunity to score some UCI points and get SA to first in the Africa Tour rankings again. It will be good to get more exposure to international racing in Africa.”
Ruben van der Merwe, Henry Neethling, Tristan Cuthbert, Jandre Storm and Sias Joubert make up the contingent of young riders in the team and Maree believes this will be a good opportunity to show them the ropes.
“More than half the team will consist of young riders and we can pass on a lot of experience to them,” Maree said.
“The fastest way to learn is by having someone next to you in a race and showing them how to do things.
“Things change every second in a cycle race and it will be nice to teach the young guys some things and hopefully get them to move on from Continental to pro-Continental and then to WorldTour. That’s the goal.”
The Fourways local, who won the Jock Classic in July, said he had been racing alongside or against Potgieter for 15 years, while having ridden in the same team as Hoffman for almost nine years and Van Heerden for three.
“We’ve come a long way together,” he said. “We really gel well and everything we do together clicks and works out most of the time.
“We read each other well and with Bradley having so much experience the four of us will be able to race off each other and complement each other.”
Maree said they would still chase the local races next year, especially the “big three”, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, Amashova Durban Classic and 947 Cycle Challenge, which were all won by BCX this year.
“But we want to build on the international racing, to race more in Africa and hopefully broaden that out to Asia in the future.
“It’s great to be part of a team like Vandergroup that has so much passion for cycling and a plan to grow the team into a pro-Continental [outfit] with so many aspirations. They’re shooting for the moon and hoping to hit the stars.
“I want to help grow the team to become bigger than just SA and Africa. I want to try to get as many results as possible which I’m sure we’ll be able to do with such an incredible team.”
Maree, Hoffman and Van Heerden will take part in the national track champs in Cape Town from December 11 to 16.
They plan to have a short training camp with the team after that before competing in their first official race for Vandergroup at the Mpumalanga Tour from January 11 to 17.