Cape Town - The elevation of South Africa's TransCape mountain bike race to UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) status makes it an attractive proposition for local and international professionals.
This is the view of local pro and former Olympian Philip Buys, who finished runner-up in the National MTB Series behind team-mate Matthys Beukes recently.
The seven-day, 614km race across the Western Cape from February 4 next year takes competitors through some of the most iconic trails in the country and UCI status is set to increase its appeal.
"To have UCI status is very good for events of this nature," said Buys.
"It plays a big role for riders who want to improve their seeding for World Cup events and it's ideal to have more races on the local scene for our cyclists to do that."
The TransCape will join other UCI-graded local races such as the Cape Epic and Cape Pioneer Trek and Buys said these were important for riders who were focused on earning world ranking points.
"For that, it is good to have access to these races and it will also work for the overseas market."
ASG Events chief executive Wynand de Villiers said the reputation of the country's most luxurious mountain bike race would be enhanced by its UCI status.
"The option to earn ranking points increases its value for pro cyclists as it assists in their qualification for Olympic Games and world championship events," he said.
"UCI sanctioning also brings with it a windfall of international media coverage, all of which helps to attract the top riders from around the world."
He added that the TransCape had a prize purse of R250 000, which was well within the UCI's requirements.
De Villiers said they went to "paranoid levels" to ensure their service and hospitality levels were of the highest quality.
"We know it's tough enough on the bike, hence there is no reason to test riders' patience and tenacity off it."
The event, which starts in Knysna and finishes at La Couronne Wine Farm in Franschhoek, is limited to 135 two-man teams.
Go to www.transcapemtb.co.za for more information.