Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) is proud of its sponsorship of the Toyota CRYO RDT elite virtual cycling team in 2023. The team has been racing in the Zwift Racing League (ZRL) A1 Division and new elite Zwift Grand Prix events. Glenn Crompton, Vice President of Marketing for TSAM, says, “We are thrilled to be working with the CRYO team and their talented riders who share our vision of elevating virtual cycling on a global scale. We will continue to use our resources and expertise to provide exceptional support for these athletes.”
This season Elite-level virtual racing separated from the Zwift Racing League (ZRL), and Toyota CRYO RDT’s men’s and women’s squads were both selected to participate in these new elite events known as the Zwift Grand Prix. These races delivered thrilling results, showcasing new and innovative racing formats. After the initial six races of the Grand Prix Series, the men’s team finished in 4th place including a first race win in round 5, while the women’s team finished in 8th place. As one of the top five teams the men progressed to the final where they finished in an excellent 2nd place. This was a massive achievement for the team which continues to improve race by race.
Both teams also continue to compete in the top divisions of the ZRL. After three rounds of racing each comprising of six races (Sept – Feb) both teams competed in the end of season finals in March where the men’s team finished 3rd and the women’s team 4th in their respective leagues.
During the season, the team welcomed new riders, including the winner of the inaugural Toyota Tour de Virtual tournament, a talented young South African mountain biker and road racer named Jason Miller. Brad Gouveris, another experienced South African racer, and Jody Jochems from the Netherlands also joined the men’s team. On the women’s side, Joanie Reitsma from the Netherlands and accomplished outdoor British road racer Lucy Harris were new additions to the women’s team.
On 20 January Bart Van Den Eeckhaut became Flanders eSports Champion and qualified for the Belgium Cycling Esports Championship. On 12 February, as a result of an event in front of a live audience the team was thrilled to have Bart Van Den Eeckhaut crowned Belgium Cycling Esports Champion. Bart is now permitted to wear the national champions jersey for the next year while participating in Esports Cycling events.
Zwift hosted the third official UCI Cycling Esports World Championships on 18 February 2023, solidifying virtual cycling as a competitive sport to follow. Toyota CRYO RDT was proud to have 8 of their riders selected to take part in this prestigious event representing South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain and the Netherlands. In a brand-new format, the racing was even more competitive with three back-to-back races on new challenging Scottish Zwift courses designed to test the limits of even the most skilled cyclists. Two of our riders Natalie Stevenson and Lucy Harris undertook the race in front of a live audience at a special event in Glasgow Scotland. After the racing was completed, we were proud to have two riders in both the men’s and women’s competition finish in the top 20: Martin Maertens (11th) and Bart Van Den Eeckhaut (14th), and Linda Klein (12th) and Lucy Harris (18th).
Alan Glendinning, CRYO RDT Team Director, said, “We are proud to be supported by TSAM. Toyota’s support has been instrumental in allowing our riders to compete at the highest level. Our shared goal of developing talent, especially from underrepresented areas such as Africa, is already bearing fruit with the men’s winner of the inaugural Toyota Tour de Virtual, Jason Miller, joining the team. We will continue to seek opportunities to strengthen the team, both with accomplished Zwift riders and up-and-coming talent.”
The Toyota CRYO RDT team and its fans eagerly await more thrilling racing in 2023.