TEAM SAMPADA RECLAIMING THEIR STATUS
Prior to this last weekend’s highly competitive Tour of Durban most pundits overlooked the chances of Sampada Cycling. A classy field lined up for the race and in the build-up the regular names of Gustav Venter (the defending champ), Steven van Heerden, Dylan Girdlestone and Nolan Hoffman were on most people’s podium list. These favourites were backed up by high profile local racing teams such as Team Enza, TEG Pro, Barzani Pro Cycling and Officeguru.
However in an excellent showing Thokozani Mahlangu of Sampada Cycling manage to fight his way onto the podium in a well deserved 2nd place, just seconds behind the winner Steven van Heerden. Thokozani has a great racing pedigree and was included in the SA team for the Sharjah tour in the UAE in 2018 – so this result was bound to happen at some stage. This is brilliant result for Thokozani and the team, especially given the tough year that Sampada has by their own admission had.
If you were following Sampada’s journey more closely recently, this result shouldn’t however have come as a big surprise. The ever inspiring Bonga Ngqobane was recently appointed as the team’s director sportif. Bonga comes with bags of experience, knowledge, charisma and passion. This combination has undoubtedly played a role in the team’s success. For those not familiar with his impressive CV, he is amongst others, a level 2 UCI qualified cycling coach and was recently the director sportif for the South African National team at the African Road Champs in Ethiopia. We caught up with Bonga after the race:
You only came on board recently with Sampada, how did it come about? I was actually involved in the background from the outset. When Sampada was initiated a few years ago, a couple of my development riders (TAS Bonga Cycling Academy) actually moved up country to join the team. I was always involved in the background supporting Bruce. In the beginning of the year they approached me to become full time manager and it was a great opportunity for me to help to contribute to a cause and team I believe in. The start of our season wasn’t to good, but the team was still getting together and there was a lot of external factors that caused us not to bring home the results. We went back to the drawing board and starting building again, so this result in the Tour of Durban is a result of the work we put in.
What are your goals for the remainder of the season?