There was great excitement when 24 young cyclists from previously disadvantaged communities took to the streets of Durban yesterday in the much-admired Tour Durban Cycle Race.
This year's event was not just about the thrill of high bike speeds but also the opening of opportunities to develop riders.
It is the first time that they take part in a major bike race and on their very own bicycles.
The 2009 Cycling Development Programme under the auspices of Apex Perception has been structured to ensure sustainable growth in cycling as a sport among KwaZulu-Natal's previously poor communities, while also seeking out and developing future talent.
Nompilo Luthuli, 17, has been cycling for two months and said this was her first major race.
Jarrid Josephs is another development rider. He has his sights on becoming the next Lance Armstrong.
The riders each received a bicycle, helmet, shirt and soccer ball, all of which they keep thanks to a sponsorship from the province's department of economic development.
They also each received free entry to the Tour Durban for three years.
The Tour Durban comprises the popular classic road race and a mountain bike race, which was sponsored this year by KwaZulu-Natal and eThekwini municipality as a platform from which to market the region as a 2010 World Cup soccer destination.