Rapha-Condor plan to start their 2009 season with two prestigious South African stage races, the Tour of Boland and the Giro del Capo in late February and early March.

Rapha-Condor has never raced either event before but the plan this season is for the team to target many more foreign events.

?The sponsors are keen to reinforce their presence in the South African, Japanese and North American markets,? team manager John Herety told Cycling Weekly on Friday.

?So we?ll be taking the team abroad a lot more in general, and that made Boland an obvious choice as a season-starter.?

Boland runs from February 25th to March 1st, whilst the Capo is from March 4th-8th.

?Capo overlaps with the Cape Argus mass-start race, which the Rapha-Condor club guys will be doing,? explains Herety, ?and it?s run in the same area, so the team and the club will be joining up for the day’s ride.?

Argus is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world, with 35,000 cyclists taking part on a route around Cape Town.

Other races abroad for the Rapha-Condor squad include the Tour of Normandy, the Tour de Beauce in Canada, the Tour of New York, the Tour of Ireland and the Tour of Japan.

The Britisn racing scene is far from being forgotten. Rapha-Condor’s first UK race for 2009 will be GP Eddie Soens on March 9th, with the Tour of Britain, for which the team have just received an invitation, a high point of the season.

The team will hold their training camps for the season near Malaga in Spain, the first in late January, the second in mid-February.

?We?ll be splitting the riders into two groups, one doing the South African races and the other which will be focussing on events later in the season,? Herety says.

?Dean Downing, for example, will be defending his National Criteriums Championships title, that?s a big objective for him, and his training will centre around getting into top condition for that.?

The team?s presentation will be held in the Malmaison Hotel in London next Friday, a stone?s throw from Smithfield Market where the Rapha-Condor backed nocturne criterium is held.