The cycling fraternity is up in arms over the fact that the winner of the OFM Classic had to forfeit his prize money. Bicycling chatted to the organisers to get their side of the story.
A couple of the winners from Sunday’s MTN OFM Classic, including the overall race winner, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, had to forfeit their prize money because they weren’t at prize giving. Van Rensburg in particular had to rush off to catch a plane to represent South Africa at the African Continental Champs.
A number of disgruntled cyclists tweeted asking the race organisers for a response to not presenting the winners with their earnings. So what do the organiser’s of the MTN OFM Classic have to say?
Why did the prize giving take place four hours after the winner’s finished?
The MTN OFM Classic official race prize giving has taken place at 1pm every year for the past eleven years. The official race prize giving is an important conclusion to the day where we recognise the category winners of the race in full view of the cycling public, the media, the sponsors and partners of the race. The official race prize giving gives back deserved value to the sponsors of the race and cyclists of the race who are not privy to seeing the professionals. This is the opportunity to see in person the professionals who won the race they just took part in.
Why do the prize winners have to forfeit their winnings?
The MTN OFM Classic race rules clearly stipulates …”Attendance at the official race prize giving is required by all cyclists who have won either prize money or individual races. No trophies or prize money will be handed to winners before the official race prize giving. Prize money and/or trophies will be forfeited if cyclist are not present at the official race prize giving. For Elite cyclists (both men and ladies), the cyclists first three positions in the overall men and ladies categories will be required to be part of the official media prize giving within thirty minutes after the ladies race has been completed. Trophy handover and prize monies will only be handed over at the official race prize giving at 1pm”… These are race rules which have been in place for the past eleven years. The professional teams are well aware of this. We feel strongly about these rules to give back deserved value to the sponsors and partners of the race and cyclists of the race who are not privy to seeing the professionals. All forfeited winnings after Cycling SA deductions and Free State Cycling deductions will be donated to the charitable institutions who benefit from the presentation of the MTN OFM Classic. This year; the Qhubeka project will benefit financially.
Are you not willing to make an arrangement in special circumstances?
The MTN OFM Classic is open to special arrangements with professional teams should the request be made in good time and through the correct channels. In the case of [Reinardt Janse van Rensburg] the race was informed twelve hours before the race took place that he would even take part in the race and then need to leave. He only entered the race the Saturday afternoon before race day; as a late entry and substitution for another rider in his team. We find that unfair on the race organisation, the sponsors and partners to put us in such a predicament. The team management could have been more accommodating to the race in this regard and informed us in good time and an arrangement could have been made and the sport we all love would not have to be dragged through the mud and the image of the race possibly tarnished. The MTN OFM Classic is a well organised event with good people behind the scenes who work ten months a year for the love of the sport – they deserve better than what has transpired. It is regrettable that a South African champion is at the centre of a cycling issue that has surfaced not for the first time.
We feel professional teams should respect the rules of this and all races. In the next two weeks the MTN OFM Classic will host a meeting with two of the professional teams to address the issues that affect both events and the professional cyclists and the need from both sides to find common ground that is good for the professional cycling community and what is good for the events.