The winners of the inaugural Exxaro Development Jersey at the 2012 Absa Cape Epic, from the Exxaro Academy, Azukile Simayile and Siphosenkosi Madolo, arrived back from Germany after successfully competing in this year’s 8-day TransAlp, which took place from 14 to 21 July 2012. The opportunity to participate in the TransAlp was the riders’ prize for winning the Exxaro Jersey at this year’s Absa Cape Epic and their first trip overseas.

Says Azukile Simayile (18): “The highlights of the TransAlp were definitely the climbs, the beauty of the mountains and to be riding in the snow.” His team mate Siphosenkosi Madolo (21) adds: “The biggest challenge was the long climbs – it was just a never ending story!”

They found the race easier than anticipated. Says Simayile: “The Absa Cape Epic is much more challenging than the TransAlp. It's also better organised and we felt more part of a community at the Cape Epic. Also, the level of competition is higher on the Cape Epic than the TransAlp.”

With regards to their preparations for next year’s Absa Cape Epic, both riders feel that the experience will help them. Adds Madolo: “There were some very long climbs, which will definitely help us to climb better next year!”

Their best result for the week was to finish in 48th place in a time of 2 hours 50 minutes during one of the stages. Simayile reckons stage 5 was the best: “It had the most beautiful single track and we made up lots of time on the other teams on the downhill. Generally, the route was beautiful, with lots of long climbs and most of them were on tarred roads, around 80%, which of course made it a bit easier.”

Both Simayile and Madolo were extremely grateful for this enormous opportunity. Says Madolo: “It has been a great honour to be here and it was a fantastic experience for us to come and do this race. Thank you very much to all the people who made this possible.” Simayile concludes: “Thank you very much to all the other riders for their support. There were lots of South Africans at the event and they were very friendly and supportive to us.”

According to Sipho Nkosi, CEO of Exxaro: “Exxaro is extremely proud of the two riders’ results in the TransAlp. We also feel very fortunate to have been able to expose them to a whole new world and life experience. We believe that the Exxaro MTB Academy will deliver a whole lot more of these talented young riders in future.”