27 March 2014
South African Pro Continental Cycling Team MTN-Qhuebka received an invitation to the Ronde van Vlaanderan late on Tuesday evening. The prestigious race is one of the five “Monuments” of world cycling.
The Monuments are considered to be the oldest and most-prestigious one-day events on the calendar, after the World Championship Road Race.
Besides the Ronde van Vlaanderen, they also include the Milan-Sam Remo (won by MTN-Qhubeka’s Gerald Ciolek in 2013), the Paris-Roubaix, the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and the Giro di Lombardia.
MTN-Qhubeka has now been invited to four of the five Monuments, with only the Paris-Roubaix still needing to be crossed off the list.
World famous cobbles
The Ronde van Vlaanderan (Tour of Flanders) is arguably the most sought after title of all the Belgian cobbled classics. It is steeped in tradition and the course incorporates world famous cobbled climbs like Oude Kwaremont, Koppenberg and the Paterberg. There is even a museum dedicated to the history of the race.
With the invitation, Team MTN-Qhubeka becomes the first African Professional Pro- Continental Team to take part in the event.
‘An absolute honour’
Team Principal Douglas Ryder was grateful to receive the invite. “The Tour of Flanders is the highlight of cycling in Flanders. It is an absolute honour for Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung to be on the start line in the heart of cycling,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The race has everything, from cobbles to climbs, wind and rain. Only the strong survive this race to the end and we will be hoping that good fortune shines on us to be in the front at the end.”
The Ronde van Vlaanderen takes place on 6 April and will be run over a distance of 259 kilometres. It will include 17 Hellingen climbs and six separate cobble sections.
Big name riders like Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara, world champions both, will again be favourites for the victory, while Team MTN-Qhubeka will relish the opportunity to take on the best riders in the world.
Gerald Ciolek, the team captain, said earlier in the week that his goals include a stage win in the Tour de France as well as a victory at the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The inclusion of South African team at this year’s edition of the Ronde will give the German an opportunity to achieve one of those goals.