Former South African professional cyclist Neil MacDonald has launched a cycling events company alongside good friend Jamie Taylor with the aim of giving back to local cyclists.
The company’s ethos is to organise events for cyclists by cyclists, with 100% of the entry fee being reinvested into their prize money.
The events will feature five categories of racing in the tradition of the European kermis circuit racing, with high spectator value. It will be by invitation only to keep the categories competitive.
“I’ve always expressed an interest in hosting a cycling event but have never had the opportunity to really get involved until now, which is really exciting,” said race director MacDonald, who retired from his 15-year career five years ago.
He added that Prologue Events was all about creating exciting events for the riders and allowing the spectators to see the action up close.
“We want to see local cyclists flourish and provide them with a platform in order to do so.
“If they are good enough it will also give them the opportunity to earn additional prize money. We also provide an affordable structure for corporate sponsors to get involved without breaking the bank.”
MacDonald felt too many events in the country used the professional entries to give the events credibility.
“Fun riders use the winners’ times as a benchmark to push towards and more often than not the prize money splits are less than the entry fee.
“We have listened to the riders’ complaints over the years and felt it was time to get involved at another level.
“There have been race organisers over the years who have had the pro riders’ interests at heart and share the same passion for developing the sport of cycling, but these are few and far [between].”
He added that the mountain-biking scene had taken a very strong stance in looking after their professionals and he felt the road races should follow their example.
“I’ve been out of professional cycling for some time now, but from what I hear the prize-money situation has deteriorated substantially.
“Prize money has and always will be a touchy subject with race organisers. I know what it takes to be a professional athlete and this needs to be rewarded in terms of earning decent prize money.
“When I see events attracting 4 000-plus entries and the prize money that’s on offer it does not make sense to me.”
The 42-year-old added that their first event, on a 2.5km circuit at the Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on July 28, was only catering for the competitive field but they were still able to offer a higher prize purse than the majority of long-standing events.
Taylor, the driving force behind the company, said they were tired of the poor prize money being paid to top cyclists who were expected to earn a living from it.
“It [the company] was set up to give back to racing and not make money,” he said.
MacDonald, who competed for his country 14 times at international competitions, said that Taylor, who owns and managed the OfficeGuru racing team, had always been a great friend of his and they went to primary school together.
“Jamie was one of the guys that got me into cycling back in the day.
“He is a huge supporter of it and his concept of being involved is very different to past team owners where they ran their teams to make money. Jamie is involved with cycling because it’s a passion.”
He added that he became involved as race director as he was still very passionate about cycling and felt it was a fantastic sport.
“I’d been in discussion with Jamie for some time about a potential event and now here we are. I’ve also been able to call on some of my sponsors from when I used to race.”