African cycling team reaches landmark moment with La Vuelta a Espana
MTN-Qhubeka reached a “landmark” moment in African cycling sports with today’s announcement that it will be Africa’s first ever professional cycling club to race a grand tour at the 2014 La Vuelta a Espana. The race will take place from Saturday 23 August until Sunday 14 September 2014.
The race is a 3-week tour with over 20 stages and ends in Santiago de Compostela, after covering a total distance of 1,977 miles.
Among the team members of the African club are Eritrean Merhawi Kudus, who favors stage races in mountainous terrain and fellow countryman Daniel Teklehaimanot whose favorite tour is the Vuelta a España.
“We are extremely excited and very proud to announce the 6 African and 3 European riders that will make history and represent Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung at the 2014 La Vuelta a Espana.”, MTN-Qhubeka said on Saturday.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung La Vuelta a Espana Lineup
Jacques Janse van Rensburg
Reserve: Ignatas Konovalovas
Team Principal- Douglas Ryder
I must truly thank Unipublic for giving us this opportunity to participate in La Vuelta a Espana this year. It is fitting that Africa’s first ever team to race a Grand Tour starts the one Grand Tour that is closest to the African Continent.
I am really proud of this team and how the riders have stepped up in the last 2 years. To have such a great team dynamic in our first Grand Tour with a strong representation from the African Continent shows how far this team has come and how all of our European riders have helped fast-track this team to success. It was a really tough decision to select the final 9 riders as our team has riders that have so much to offer.
Thanks to the management team and the staff who built the team up to this incredible milestone for African Cycling and to our invaluable title sponsor MTN who believed in the dream so many years ago. The recent support from Samsung helped us step up to another level and the Qhubeka Foundation gave us a reason to exist way beyond performances on the bike. Support our team through this journey as another chapter starts
Rider – Gerald Ciolek
It’s a great thing that we’ll be at the start of La Vuelta, it is a big step forward for our team. I am personally looking forward to it too because I believe our team can perform really well at this race. It is a race that suits our team and especially our climbers can be successful.
Rider – Louis Meintjes
I am super happy to have been selected to race La Vuelta, I still can’t really believe it. I think after La Vuelta I will only realise what it actually means. My main goal will firstly be to just reach the finish and after that I will definitely look to target 1 or 2 stages for a result. Of course I will help support Sergio for the GC on the mountain stages too.
Rider – Jay Thomson
This is probably one of the proudest moments in my career to be on the start line of my first grand tour. I just can’t wait to get the ball rolling. Having 4 riders from South Africa is unreal and a total of 6 from Africa to start La Vuelta is something really special. Never before has this been done so it’s a massive step for African cycling.
Rider – Jaco Venter
I am so happy to have been selected. I must admit, it has been a really stressful few weeks leading up to La Vuelta but I couldn’t be happier and I hope to make the team and all our fans proud.
Rider – Kristian Sbaragli
I am really happy and proud to be part of the final selection for La Vuelta. It will definitely be a hard race but I am confident I can do well at my first grand tour. I have been preparing for a long time at altitude for La Vuelta so I will be ready.