Centurion - In stark contrast to the 2013 Cape Epic when Rozalia Kubwana became the first previously disadvantaged black South African woman to complete the event, a number of talented black SA women will be competing at this year’s race.
Refilwe Mogorosi, who has completed two Cape Epics, and Remofilwe Moeketsi, a two-time finisher, now return each year determined to stamp their authority on the race.
The huge strides made by these women has not been lost on anyone, and for the first time this year’s Cape Epic – taking place from 19-26 March – will include the Exxaro Women’s Jersey to motivate more black women to take part in mountain biking.
While the jersey, first introduced in 2012, has never been specific to any gender, it has usually been contested by men’s teams. In nine editions, a total of 37 Exxaro Jersey teams have reached the final stage finish line in the top 100, with nine of those in the top 50.
Since its inception, the Exxaro Jersey has given more than 100 young, black and historically disadvantaged SA riders a goal.
In addition to offering a jersey, which comes with prizes and increased media exposure, the Cape Epic essentially created a platform for a number of SA corporates to support the development of mountain biking.
Yet more is needed to be done for disadvantaged black South African women under the age of 26, an age group that makes up a large part of SA’s population.
“We have seen an increase in the number of women riders and a greater awareness in women's cycling in general and so it was a natural progression to introduce an Exxaro Jersey for women – thereby encouraging and motivating more historically disadvantaged South African women to get involved in the event,” said Cape Epic partnership manager Marc Erasmus.
Curro Holdings, the largest private school group in SA, has not hesitated in matching the main prize for the new Exxaro Women’s Jersey winners to that of the Exxaro Jersey men’s main prize – two 12-year scholarships to children of the winners’ choice.
In addition, Stadio has also offered the winners of the Exxaro Women’s Jersey access to a bursary for one of 20 Higher Education qualifications.
For Mogorosi, the initiative is the icing on the cake.
“This is something I have always wished we had. Most important to me are the prizes that can change someone’s life with a better education,” said Mogorosi.
“I believe that with this new Exxaro Jersey, other teams or academies will actively recruit more girls and help train them to compete for this prize.”