Cape Town - Team MTN-Qhubeka Powered by Samsung are set to make history when
they become the first African registered cycling team to participate in
the Tour de France this year.
To be on the start line of Le
Tour is a huge step forward for our team and a massive milestone for
African cycling. The opportunity comes with great responsibility and
MTN-Qhubeka will take to the Grand Depart with clear
objectives and a strong team. Seven African riders and four internationals make
the MTN-Qhubeka Tour de France squad.
With the Tour
de France only a month away now, there has been much speculation as to
who might make the MTN-Qhubeka squad for our African debut
appearance at the La Grande Boucle. It is with great pleasure and
excitement that we officially announce the 11 rider list from which the
final nine riders will be decided.
As an African team racing to
raise awareness for the Qhubeka charity, we head to the Tour de France
with the goal of putting 5 000 African children on bicycles through our
#BicyclesChangeLives campaign. We are extremely pleased that seven of the 11
riders on our squad come from Africa with the remaining four spots
completed by our international riders.
We have three South African
riders represented. Our South African national road race champion
Jacques Janse van Rensburg, the African continental road race champion
Louis Meintjes, and our fast finishing Reinardt Janse van Rensburg have
all made the selection.
Our Eritrean trio who were all part of
Eritrea’s continental team time trial victory this year have all also
made the selection. Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Natnael
Berhane will each by vying for one of the final 9 starting spots. Our
final African rider on the list is the Algerian Tour de Langkawi victor,
Complementing our seven African men are the four
experienced internationals, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Steve Cummings, Serge
Pauwels and Tyler Farrar. All four men have been an integral part to the
development of our African riders and are now ready to help champion our
#BicyclesChangeLives campaign cause at the Tour de France.
the coming month our team will head to a number of races around Europe,
including the Criterium du Dauphine and Ster ZLM Toer, and it is only
after these events that the decision will be made as to who the final nine
Tour de France riders will be.
The 11 Team MTN-Qhubeka team members, nine riders and two reserves, that will be competing with the world’s best cyclists come July 4:
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Edvald Boasson Hagen, 28, from Lillehammer, Norway, is one of the strongest all-rounders in cycling and has claimed 38 professional victories since launching his professional career in 2008.
Edvald has a really impressive palmares which include two stage victories at the Tour de France.
Edvald has also been victorious at Ghent-Wevelgem, the Giro d’Italia, and lays claim to seven national titles.
Edvald is also a two-time winner of his national tour in Norway. His ability to win from bunch sprints, breakaways and time trials has made Edvald one of the most versatile talents in the peloton.
Rider Type: Rouleur
23-year-old Louis Meintjes, from Pretoria, announced himself to the cycling world in September 2013, when he earned the silver medal in the World Under 23 Road Race Championships.
He is a climber with a big future ahead of him which he repeatedly reconfirmed in 2014, firstly winning the elite national road race champs ahead of Darryl Impey and then finishing 2nd on the final stage of the Giro del Trentino, finishing ahead of Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins.
At the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, Louis was repeatedly climbing with the best GC riders in the world and even went to finish in 5th place on stage 14. Louis will certainly be one of our protected GC riders in 2015.
Rider Type: Climber
Jacques Janse van Rensburg
Jacques Janse van Rensburg, 27, has always loved sport and says he would be a sports doctor if he were not a professional cyclist.
Born in Springs, Gauteng, and raised in the Free State, he says the bicycle is everything to him and he doesn’t enjoy the off season.
2014 was somewhat of a breakthrough year for Jacques after he overcame some health issues in December of 2013. Jacques went on to win the Mzansi Tour overall and also showed some classy climbing talent at the Tour of Langkawi, Luxembourg and Coppa Bartali.
His consistency netted him a spot in the 2014 Vuelta squad where he again impressed, riding into 4 breakaways and climbing with the world's best on stage 18.
Jacques will be one of the protected GC riders in 2015.
Rider Type: Climber
Stephen Cummings, 34, from Wirral, England, has been a super domestique racing at the world tour level for the past 5 years.
Steve is no stranger to South African cycling as during the early stages of his career he raced for the Barloworld outfit.
He spent quite a bit of time racing in South Africa and even won a stage in the Giro del Capo.
While Steve has ridden in support of a designated team leader for the majority of his career, he went on to show his strength and capabilities as a protected rider in 2014 when he won the Tour of Mediterranean overall.
It was Steve’s time-trialing ability that secured him the victory, an ability MTN-Qhubeka will be hoping to exploit in 2015 as Steve will be able to target short tours that include a time trial.
This same skill Steve possesses will also be a key factor in the teams leadout train and performances in team time trials.
Rider Type: Rouleur
Tyler Farrar, 31, from Wenatchee (Washington), US, is one of those household names in professional cycling who has 28 wins as a professional rider.
In the early part of his career, Tyler was a thoroughbred sprinter who would duel for the stage victories in the big bunch sprints.
Tyler has spent his last 7 years at an American team and has welcomed the change of scenery at MTN-Qhubeka where he will not only be used as an out and out sprinter, but will also have new objectives as one of the classics riders.
The new environment has brought a renewed motivation to the American as he looks to have a big season in 2015.
As a rider who has won stages in all 3 grand tours, Tyler’s experience will also go a long way in mentoring the younger riders on the team.
Rider Type: Sprinter/Classics
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, 36, from Virginia, South Africa is one of only 3 South African riders to have raced on a World Tour team.
Reinardt originally started his career with MTN-Qhubeka and had his most successful season with the African Team in 2012 when he won 14 races that year.
He then went on to form part of the formidable Giant-Shimano leadout that delivered Marcel Kittel & John Degenkolb to numerous victories over the last 2 years.
Reinardt is a powerful rider with a sharp turn of speed, his trump card is his ability to climb better than many of the sprinters.
Having cut his teeth at the highest level of the sport, Reinardt is now ready to return to MTN-Qhubeka in 2015 as a protected rider who will be gunning for big victories throughout the year.
Rider Type: Classics/Sprinter
Serge Pauwels, 31, from Lier, Belgium, is a really strong tour rider who climbs well and rides strongly in the time trial too.
His skill set was an important part of his previous teams success in the team time trial discipline as well as being the right hand man to the teams GC riders.
The experience Serge has gained in this role makes him the perfect rider to support our young African riders like Louis Meintjes and Merhawi Kudus in their quest for some top GC results.
Serge already has 7 grand tours under his belt and to have a rider of his caliber brought on to the team to assist in the success of young African riders is a major coupe for our team.
Rider Type: Climber/Rouleur
21-year old Merhawi Kudus from Asmara, Eritrea, is considered one of the most exciting young talents from the African continent.
He started cycling at 14 and immediately impressed in road races even though he was racing on a mountain bike.
As an 18 year old in 2012, he started the Tour of Rwanda and won stage one. He raced a more European program in 2013 and picked up victories in France and Italy. In 2014 Merhawi went on to finish 2nd overall at the Tour de Langkawi.
At the Route du Sud, Merhawi found himself in some esteemed company but the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Michael Rogers and Nicholas Roche could not shake the young Eritrean as he held on to 5th place overall.
At the Vuelta a Espana, he showed his grit and determination to finish the grand tour even after a massive crash in week 1. It’s almost frightening to think of what Merhawi could achieve in 2015.
Rider Type: Climber
Hailing from Debarwa, Eritrea, Daniel Teklehaimanot, 26, is a product of the UCI World Cycling Centre.
In 2012, he became the first African rider of colour to complete a Grand Tour in the Vuelta a España.
Daniel also formed part of the MTN-Qhubeka team that raced the Vuelta a Espana in 2014. Before turning professional, he spent time as a stagiaire at Cervélo TestTeam.
While Daniel was in more breakaways than one could count in 2014, his most notable result came at the Tour of Luxembourg’s final stage when he sprinted to 3rd behind Andre Greipel and Matti Breschel.
While Daniel has always been good on the hills, his time trialing ability also improved drastically in 2014 and the new season looks to be one of great opportunity for the Eritrean.
Rider Type: Tour Rider
Natnael Berhane, 24, from Eritrea, is certainly one of the most talented riders on the African Continent.
He proved this by winning the continental championships on 2 occasions now.
Natnael was also the first black African rider to win a European race when he won the Queen stage and the overall classification of the Tour of Turkey.
Natnael also won the most prestigious African stage race in 2014, the Tour of Gabon by craftily outsprinting multiple Tour de France stage winner Luis Leon Sanchez.
It was only natural that one of Africa’s best riders would join Africa’s team for the 2015 season.
Natnael will certainly be one of the protected GC riders during the course of the year.
Rider Type: Tour Rider
Youcef Reguigui, 25, from Algeria, comes from a cycling family.
His father is a famous cyclist from Algeria who raced in Europe during the 70’s and 80’s.
Youcef won seven races in 2012 including a Nations Cup event against some of the best under 23 riders in the world, which was the catalyst to his first professional contract. He is currently also being mentored by some of the more experienced sprinters on the team and this already bore fruit in 2014 as Youcef went on to win stage 3 of the Tour of Azerbaidjan.
Youcef was also the key to many of Kristian Sbaragli’s top results in 2014 as he led out the Italian in the crazy sprint finishes.
With a number of marquee sprinters joining the team for 2015, Youcef will be an integral part of the teams success.
Rider Type: Lead-out man/Sprinter