Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung have announced the final nine man team that will make history as the first African team to participate in Le Tour de France and three South Africans are on the list!
Starting on 4 July these nine riders will represent the African continent on cycling’s most global stage, with the objective of driving the team’s #BicyclesChangeLives campaign with the idea to mobilise 5000 kids in Africa with bicycles this July.
The long list of 11 riders was announced on 2 June. The magnificent performance of the team at the Criterium du Dauphine that gave the management team the confirmation to select the final Le Tour team.
About the team:
There will be three South African riders making their Tour de France debut: the African champion, Louis Meintjes, South African champion, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.
The two Eritrean riders will be the first men ever from the country to take part in the Tour de France. In all likelihood, Merhawi Kudus will also be the youngest rider in the race, while Daniel Teklehaimanot will start the Grande Boucle fresh off winning our team’s first-ever World Tour leaders jersey at the recent Criterium du Dauphine.
Edvald Boasson Hagen brings a wealth of experience, having been a part of two previous Tour de France winning teams. Tyler Farrar has won stages in all three Grand Tours previously; Steve Cummings brings incredible time trial strength and the ever aggressive Serge Pauwels will compliment the five African riders, completing the team for the 102nd Tour de France. Natnael Berhane and Youcef Reguigi will be the two reserve riders for the team.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders for 102nd Le Tour de France
Edvald Boasson Hagen [Norway]
Steve Cummings [Great Britain]
Tyler Farrar [USA]
Jacques Janse van Rensburg [South Africa]
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg [South Africa]
Merhawi Kudus [Eritrea]
Louis Meintjes [South Africa]
Serge Pauwels [Belgium]
Daniel Teklehaimanot [Eritrea]
According to the General Manager, Brian Smith, “It was always going to be difficult to choose nine riders from 23. It was even more difficult as history will be made in July when the first South African based team takes the start in Utrecht. We have chosen the best team suited to hit our team goals. During the Tour we are focused on helping fund 5000 bicycles for school children in South Africa who walk more than 6km to school daily. We hope to raise awareness and garner support for our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign by targeting performance goals that include a stage win and wearing a competition jersey. We will not go to the Tour with a dedicated Sprint or GC train, but look to take opportunities in most stages as demonstrated in the Dauphine. We will not sit back and be counted. Tyler Farrar will be our captain on the road and work with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg towards the flatter stages. Steve Cummings will concentrate on the Prologue initially and look at stage opportunities in rolling terrain. We then have a climbing group consisting of Louis Meintjes, Merhawi Kudus, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Serge Pauwels. This group is an unknown and an exciting prospect. With Serge’s guidance we plan to feature in the high mountains. We will be taking nothing for granted and will make sure we make our own opportunities and take them when we can. The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today!”
Dr Carol Austin – Head of Performance Support and Medical
“Preparations are on-track; we expect each rider to perform at their best in July. At Team MTN-Qhubeka we take an individualised, athlete-centred approach to performance. At the start of the season, each rider’s race programme and training plan was determined with the goal of bringing them to the Tour in peak form. Most rider’s ‘ideal’ preparation plan has been realised. I am extremely grateful to the World Tour event organisers who have provided us with the race opportunities that are critical to performance in the Tour. Where medical illness and injury have interrupted our plans, my medical team and coaches have worked creatively to overcome the challenges. Over the past four weeks we’ve been fine tuning our athletes’ form through training camps in the French Alps and Italy. We’ve taken our sports science preparations to a new level for the Tour, and will use this opportunity to further extend our insights and knowledge. Our performances in the Criterium du Dauphine demonstrate that we are ready. We look forward to realising our Tour de France dreams, and starting a new chapter for African cycling.”