Johannesburg – Robert Hunter says he is eager to spearhead a South African invitation team, after he was named in the six-man outfit on Friday for the inaugural Mzansi Tour.
The ASG National Invitational team includes a mix of youth and experience as they gear up for the five-stage event from April 17 to 21.
“This provides good training for me ahead of races like the Tour of Italy,” said Hunter, who races for UCI ProTour team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda.
“It is great to race for the national team and it is not often that an opportunity like this comes along.
“Some of the guys are really young and I will be playing more of a mentor role.”
In 2001, Hunter became the first South African to compete in the Tour de France, and he went on to win a stage in the 2007 event.
His other achievements include winning the overall title at the 2004 Tour of Qatar and a sprint classification victory at the 2004 Tour de Suisse.
The national invitation team also includes youngsters James Fourie, who was fifth at the SA Road Championships in Nelspruit in January.
Team manager Ian Goetham was looking forward to the race.
“This will give our riders valuable stage-racing experience,” Goetham said.
“It is a great honour to work with the ASG Invitational national team, especially with an experienced rider like Robbie Hunter.
“Robbie has achieved a lot at international level and he will definitely provide great motivation for the team.”
Goetham said they had set lofty goals for the UCI graded event, which attracts both South African and international cycling teams.
“We will definitely be looking to finish high up in the general classification and an advantage is that the riders know the terrain,” Goetham said.
“With my experience from our success at the Tour of Rwanda, it will be vital to function as a team and work together to get the best possible results.”
National invitational team: Robert Hunter, James Fourie, Gabriel Combrinck, Kevin Patten, Reynard Butler, Kyle Donachie. Reserve: Nico Bell. Management: Ian Goetham (Team Manager). – Sapa