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MTN INCREASES ITS COMMITMENT TO CYCLING

By Bardy the Action Scribe

Cellular network giant MTN has increased its commitment to South African cycling by announcing a three-year sponsorship of mountain biking in South Africa, as well as becoming the official communications supplier to the Absa Cape Epic.

MTN, which recently announced a multi-million rand three-year sponsorship of the 19-member MTN professional cycling team, has now spread its support to event sponsorship. From 2008 until 2010, MTN will be the joint title sponsor, with Mazda, of the national marathon racing series as well as the national cross-country and downhill racing series, covering all three major mountain biking disciplines.

“This support from MTN is going to help us take mountain bike racing in this country to a new level and bring our events and our riders closer and closer to the top international standards,” said Theo Grobler, Director of the MTN Mazda Series.

“The additional sponsorship from MTN will allow us to have one sophisticated national numbering system for all major events which will help simplify the sport that is continuing to grow at an amazing rate. We’ll also be able raise the standard of events as well as increase prize money and expand media coverage, which will benefit riders and sponsors.”

There are seven events in the 2008 MTN Mazda Marathon Series, including the South African championships. In the national cross-country and downhill series, there are five events, including the national championships for those disciplines. Cross-country is the only mountain biking discipline at the Olympic Games and with the Beijing Games just seven months away, much media attention will be focused on this discipline.

MTN’s support of the Absa Cape Epic will ensure the company’s association with mountain biking reaches international status too, significant for MTN which has a presence in other African and Middle Eastern countries.

“The Absa Cape Epic, the world’s biggest mountain bike stage race, will now, thanks to MTN’s support, be able to offer participants, supporters and officials GSM network coverage throughout the race,” said Jacques Hattingh, MTN Senior Manager: Customer Satisfaction.

The nine-day event, which starts in Knysna and finishes at Lourensford Estate, Somerset West, visits some remote areas, many of which are outside of existing cellular signal range. According to Hattingh, from 2008, this will no longer be a concern for MTN clients and the race participants.

“Besides financial support, we are pleased to be able to offer our company’s service support to mountain biking. It’s in line with MTN’s philosophy of adding value to cycling and cyclists on a variety of levels.”

2008 MTN MAZDA NATIONAL MARATHON SERIES
Event 1 – Saturday 26 January: MTN Mazda Barberton Marathon / Half Marathon, Barberton
Event 2 – Saturday 3 May: MTN Mazda Forest 2 Falls Marathon / Half Marathon, Graskop
Event 3 – Saturday 14 June: MTN Mazda Induna Marathon / Half Marathon, Hazyview
Event 4/SA Championships – Saturday 2 August: MTN Mazda Paul Roos Marathon / Half Marathon, Stellenbosch
Event 5 – Saturday 6 September: MTN Mazda N3TC Dirty Harry Marathon / Half Marathon, Harrismith
Event 6 – Saturday 27 September: MTN Mazda Chandelier Marathon / Half Marathon, Oudtshoorn
Event 7 – Sunday 9 November: MTN Mazda 50 Miler Marathon / Half Marathon Midmar

2008 MTN MAZDA NATIONAL CUP CROSS-COUNTRY / DOWNHILL SERIES
SA XC CUP 1 – Saturday 19 January, Western Cape
SA DH CUP 1 – Sunday 20 January, Western Cape
SA XC CUP 2 – Saturday 9 February, Gauteng
SA DH CUP 2  – Sunday 10 February, Gauteng
SA XC CUP 3/SA Championships – Saturday 15 March, Pietermaritzburg
SA DH CUP 3/SA Championships – Sunday 16 March, Pietermaritzburg
SA XC CUP 4 – Saturday 12 April, Southern Cape
SA DH CUP 4 – Sunday 13 April, Southern Cape
SA XC CUP 5 – Saturday 17 May, Mpumalanga
SA DH CUP 5 – Sunday 18 May, Mpumalanga