Exxaro Academy's Top Athlete
Anyone watching the live broadcast of the Absa Cape Epic will have seen the distinctive green jerseys of the Exxaro Mountain Bike Academy riders. One of the biggest success stories of this program is surely Philimon Sebona, who, together with William Mokgopo, is developing into a quite formidable
mountain-bike stage racer.
Their Absa Cape Epic campaign may have started slowly, placing 207th in the pro-elite men's category. But that was clearly not good enough for them. With their never-say-die attitude they eventuallyfinished 73rd overall and managed to finish in the top 30 in the final two stages.
When the 20-year-old Sebona talks about cycling, it’s clear that in the future, he won’t be satisfied with top-20 finishes. "My ambition is to become one of the world's best mountain-bikers. I want to race internationally and win. This is what motivates me every day while I am training."
Exxaro Academy Riders : Philimon Sebona and William Mokgobo
Sebona was a keen athlete at school, but everything changed after he watched a live broadcast of the ‘Argus. "It was just so exciting to see how the MTN Qhubeka riders dictated the race. That was when I decided that I also wanted to
be a cyclist. My brother Tuis was also an avid cyclist at the time and this definitely served as extra motivation for me. I wanted to be better than him right from the beginning. Eventually Tuis became one of my most loyal supporters and he still helps me to become a better cyclist whenever he can.
Sebona started out as a road cyclist but when he was invited to join the Exxaro Academy everything changed. "What I love about mountain biking is that you race for yourself. In road cycling it can happen that you have to do all the hard work while another rider just sits in your slipstream, doing nothing. Then he out sprints you to take the victory.
When asked what he needs to work on to become more competitive in mountain biking,Sebona admitted that his downhill skills are not yet what it should be. "I also need to become stronger to enable me to ride longer distances at a faster pace." Germany's Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who have won the Absa Cape Epic three times, are his role models. "As far as I am concerned, they are both awesome riders. If I can become only half as good as they are, I will be
When he was asked to compare the Absa Cape Epic to other races, Sebona said that, in his opinion, the Epic is the hardest. "During the Epic you are challenged by tough climbs and that is what I enjoy. Tuis always said to me that, to be
able to succeed in life, you have to be good at something that not many people are able to do. Climbing is my forte. That is when I am able to drop other riders and maybe ride to win."
Exxaro Development Jersey Podium finishers at Lourensford
Sebona works part-time at CycleLab in Pretoria. "It is important for me to become financially independent. That is why I do not want to focus only on cycling, but do a proper job as well.” Sebona also dreams about working with the South
African weather service some day.