Cycling South Africa (CSA) believes the new Tour of SA will not only weather the economic storm, but will raise the profile of the sport in the country.

The inaugural race, scheduled for February 19 to 26, was launched in Sandton on Tuesday, just hours after the organisers of the annual Giro del Capo (Tour of the Cape) announced the cancellation of the 2011 race, which was to have been held in March.

David Bellairs, chief executive of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, which organised the Giro del Capo, said the new tour had made it difficult to secure funding.

“It is extremely difficult to secure major sponsorship deals in a niche sport like elite cycling, especially with the announcement of another major tour of a similar classification ending a week prior to when the Giro del Capo was scheduled to take place,” he said.

Describing it as “tragic” that such a major event would not happen in 2011, CSA president Greg Till nonetheless acknowledged that it was “a reality of the economic times we live in”.

“It’s very sad, but we have to remain positive and we have to capitalise on today’s downturn.

“We also believe we have the most amazing partner in [sponsor] Primedia Sport.”

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