HB Kruger and Morne van Niekerk are set to lead the KZN based professional cycling team, Team Abantu, in its first ever quest for a General Classification (GC) victory in a premier cycling tour in South Africa.
The team is predominantly built around team captain and sprint sensation Nolan Hoffman who is currently South Africa's most prolific race winner due to the endless amounts of work his team do to deliver him to the line week in and week out at South Africa's one day races. Next week however, the team is focussed on winning the overall GC title before any other goal during the 5-Stage tour.
Kruger has recently returned from the UCI 2.1 La Tropical Amissa Bongo, a 8-stage Tour in Gabon where he finished 16th overall. He finished 5th at the recent SA Road Champsionships and is currently in very good form. Van Niekerk at just 19yrs of age was the talk of the recent SA Time Trial Championships blitzing the U23 field to take gold and finishing in the top 4 of the Elite category just several seconds off 2nd place Reinardt janse van Rensburg.
The rest of the team selected by team manager Dean Edwards will be Hoffman, Reynard Butler, James Perry and David Maree. Hoffman & Butler were also part of the national team in Gabon with both riders securing top 5 finishes on numerous stages during the tour.
HB Kruger - Rider
Coming from Gabon my form is good and I'm looking forward to riding alongside the talented young Morne who has shown allot of promise the past couple of months. Im feeling really positive that the team can produce a good GC result.
Morne van Niekerk - Rider
I am very excited. I love riding tours and think its a great opportunity to start my tour campaign with the Tour de Boland. Taking a look at the course profile I'm confident I can do well. It will be a tough field with allot of International competition, but that makes me even more excited. It will be my first time going into a race as a GC rider for a big team. I think we have one of the strongest teams and I am very confident that myself and HB will receive great support on the road from the team.
Dean Edwards - Team Manager
This is an exciting new challenge for us targeting the GC. We predominantly focus on either stage wins with Nolan or a jersey competition such as the sprinters jersey or the KOM jersey but this year we have built a very well balanced squad. Morne and HB I believe are tour winners and I want to give them that chance. HB has some good form coming out of Gabon and Morne is an exciting youngster who continues to show his potential every week and with a 30km ITT on stage 3 he stands a very good chance of being in the hunt for the win. The rest of the team is strong and looking forward to this challenge.
The Tour starts & finishes in Paarl from the 2nd - 6th March
Stage 1: Paarl to Worcester via Franschhoek (114 kilometers)
Stage 2: Worcester to Op-die-Berg via Ceres (111 kilometers)
Stage 3: Ceres to Tulbagh (30 kilometer individual time-trial)
Stage 4: Tulbagh to Riebeek-Kasteel via Piketberg (138 kilometers)
Stage 5: Riebeek-Kasteel to Paarl via Wellington (74 kilometers)