One of South Africa's top mountain bike stage races, the TransCape, has received a major boost with the news that Liberty will be the title sponsor from 2018.
This is another breakthrough for the seven-stage race, which recently received UCI status and takes cyclists on a 614km challenge from Knysna to La Couronne Wine Farm in Franschhoek this February.
Liberty's chief marketing officer, Sydney Mbhele, said they were delighted to be associated with the race.
"It takes preparation, endurance, dedication and team work to remain competitive in this sport," he said.
"Our purpose of enabling financial freedom is enshrined on the same principles.
"The journey to financial freedom is a long-term one. We have been operating for 60 years and our partnerships with our clients remain at the heart of what we do."
As a result of the title sponsorship, the TransCape will become the third leg of the Liberty Encounter Series.
Under the ASG Events banner, the three-day Winelands and Waterberg Encounters have become firm favourites on the South African racing calendar.
The Transcape, with its picturesque route across the Western Cape, will now be known as the Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter, with STANLIB and Volvo as the presenting sponsors.
ASG Events chief Wynand de Villiers said they felt the TransCape was a perfect fit for the Encounter series and that it added an exciting dimension.
"We have an amazing relationship with Liberty on the Winelands and Waterberg Encounters and we have been chatting about adding a third event for some time.
"With the emergence of TransCape and the way it has fast-tracked since 2015, we felt this was the way to go instead of trying to create a brand-new event.
"Our relationship with Liberty is a big factor as any event is greatly dependent on the way the organisers and sponsors work together."
De Villiers stressed that the partnership elevated the Encounter Series to what they had set out to do a few years ago - to create SA's signature multi-stage mountain biking series.
Besides providing a challenge across some of the finest trails in the country, the TransCape has a reputation for five-star off-the-bike hospitality.
De Villiers said they would continue to make this a priority across all three Encounter races.
"The service levels, route, hospitality and all-round experience at the TransCape align perfectly with the Waterberg and Winelands events.
"The most important aspect for us is that riders know what to expect when they enter an Encounter.
"It's like knowing you can eat at any restaurant of your favourite franchise group anywhere in South Africa. You know you can trust the offering no matter where you are."
He believed the fact that the TransCape took place over seven days added to the attraction.
"It's obviously a different challenge to the shorter races, but we feel this adds a delightful new dynamic and variety to the series."
The fourth Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter gets under way on February 4 next year.
Visit www.transcapemtb.co.za for more information.
Caption: The Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter, which received UCI status recently, will form part of the Liberty Encounter Series from next year. Photo: Ewald Sadie