South Africa will be registering a third Continental team for next year, TEG Procycling, which according to its founder Hein Badenhorst could further improve the sport in the country.
Dimension Data for Qhubeka is currently the only SA Continental team and serves as a feeder outfit for the DiData WorldTour squad.
Towards the end of July, ProTouch announced they too would be taking the plunge and obtaining Continental status.
Badenhorst, who worked at DiData for two years, said he wanted to get involved with an SA team while he completed his master’s degree in applied human nutrition.
He was appointed as director of sport for the national team that participated in the African Continental Road Champs in Rwanda in February.
That was when Badenhorst discovered it was possible to start a team of his own within the SA arena.
“Having seen how the whole process worked I saw that it wasn’t that difficult to get everything together,” Badenhorst told In the Bunch.
“The race organisers and other people all pull together to help you out. I figured out how it worked to take guys to a race and facilitate everything.
“Then I got the idea that it can be done 10 times in a year – to take the same group of riders to 10 different races.”
He said the next step was to get funding, which according to him was the “biggest obstacle” due to the current economic climate in the country.
Badenhorst said he almost lost hope by the end of July before he started getting involved with TEG, which put him in contact with various business entities for funding.
He then decided he specifically wanted to start a Continental team as that was what he believed “SA cycling needs at the moment”.
“We need guys to go and race overseas and that’s when we saw Continental status is needed.
“I feel that will help the riders get into better races. If we’re going to spend the money for them to go overseas, I want them to take part in UCI-sanctioned races to give them the best exposure possible.”
Badenhorst said he hoped to use 2019 to establish the team and build relationships with the race organisers in order to ensure further participation in 2020.
“The main thing for me next year is development, taking these guys overseas and exposing them to the next level of racing.”
While following ProTouch’s initiative to gain Continental status, Badenhorst did not see this as competition for TEG, but rather a step forward for SA cycling as a whole.
“I see this as all of us moving towards one goal – to give our riders better exposure to international races.
“This could lift the level of racing in the country. Teams will be better prepared, better funded and have more infrastructure, which will elevate the standard of racing.
“This is about the collaboration of teams to promote the ultimate goal.”
Badenhorst said the selection criteria for the team would be twofold: riders with previous experience of racing internationally and those who had previously obtained top results in SA.
“It’s a pretty big jump from SA to Europe and we want to ensure they know what’s on the other side of that door, without throwing them in the deep end.”
Badenhorst said they already had a provisional list of riders for the team, but they weren’t able to release the names until the end of the season.
The team will be based at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre and they have reportedly already secured invitations to five UCI European events.