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Long-time cycling supporter Liberty has thrown its weight behind the Winelands MTB Encounter, a three-stage, five-star mountain bike race that starts in Stellenbosch on April 17.

The inaugural 175km race, which is presented by ASG and MTB Adventures, will see an exclusive field of just 100 two-person teams enjoying some of the country’s best mountain biking terrain around Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington.

Rebecca Eliot, managing director of the Liberty Group’s value-added services and rewards business, said the title sponsor was committed to investing in and having a lasting impact on communities.

“As a life assurance and investment organisation, we firmly believe that initiatives such as this make a real difference and have a positive impact on the lives of our customers and the broader community.

“We encourage sporting activities because we fully understand that one’s health and wellbeing is crucial to one’s personal success.”

Eliot said the Group identified strongly with the ethos of the sport of mountain biking, which was pioneering by nature.

“Liberty has been supporting cycling long before the sport gained the level of popularity it has today.”

She said the newest sponsorship built on a proud history that included the Liberty Life Criterium Series, Totalsports Challenge, Stellenbosch Cycle Tour and Liberty Duo Challenge.

“From a business perspective, we believe that mountain biking events are the best place for us to meet and engage with our target audience.

“Our mutual interest allows us to promote the Liberty brand to like-minded individuals who share a passion for health, adventure and camaraderie.”

Aside from the obvious health benefits, mountain biking events also provided an important networking opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs, she added.

“We believe this race has incredible potential to grow into a major South African sporting event and a sought-after fixture on the mountain biking calendar.”

She said the Cape Winelands event, which will be accompanied by fine dining and fine wines and is billed as South Africa’s most beautiful stage race, would take multiday racing in the country to the next level.

“The founders of this race are incredibly talented individuals with a passion for the sport and a proven track record in establishing and growing multistage events.”