Cape Town - Team Dimension Data have become the first African team to be awarded a
licence to compete on cycling's World Tour, the sports governing body
said on Wednesday.
The South African-based team, who were previously known as MTN-Qhubeka
and had a wildcard entry to this year's Tour de France, were named among
seven granted first division licences by the UCI.
The others are Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA), Etixx-Quick Step
(Belgium), Team Katusha (Russia), Lampre-Merida (Italy), Lotto Soudal
(Belgium) and Tinkoff of Russia.
There are now a total of 18 teams registered for the top tier of world cycling next year.
Team Dimension Data also competed in the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain)
this year but it was in the Tour de France that they achieved
unexpected success with a stage win, 13th overall for their Belgian
rider Serge Pauwels and fifth in the team classification.
They have since signed Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw, Kanstantsin Siutsou
and Bernhard Eisel and done three new sponsorship deals.
"This is incredible, I am so happy for this team, our partners and all
the staff and riders that have worked so hard over the years to keep
building this team to push beyond the boundaries and believe that
anything is possible," said team principal Doug Ryder.
"To get this news on our training camp in Cape Town as we are bonding
with our new team for the future is simply the best motivation to move
forward into 2016."
The team were set up in 2007 to give African riders a team in which they
could race in Europe, while simultaneously raising money for the
African bicycle charity Qhubeka.
They have raced as MTN-Qhubeka on the second-tier UCI Pro Continental
tour since 2013, but looked to move up by signing more experienced
The team's owners will now set up a new sister team, which will race on
the third-tier UCI Continental tour to continue to allow up-and-coming
African riders to race in Europe.