German star signs for MTN Qhubeka

20 August 2013

South African Professional Continental cycling team MTN Qhubeka announced the high-profile signing of German star Linus Gerdemann on Monday. He has joined the team for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Gerdemann rose to fame in 2007 when he won a stage of the Tour de France and earned himself the Yellow (race leader’s) and White (best young rider’s) jerseys.

Since then, his successes have included victories in events like the Bayern Rundfahrt and Tour of Luxembourg. The 30-year-old will now use his experience to grow the momentum within Africa’s first Professional Continental team.

“I am really happy to join the team,” he said in a statement. “We have a huge opportunity to make the sport big on the African continent and you don’t have this opportunity every day. I see huge potential for African cycling and it’s an honour for me to join the team.”

Strategic move

Gerdemann’s signing is a strategic move by the management team to use his experience to fast-track the development of the African athletes on the team. It is an approach that has already proved its worth and it is something the German star is relishing.

“I see that as part of my job here, to make African cycling bigger. The racing in Europe at the moment is tougher and bigger, so it’s important to have the experience to share. From what I’ve seen, though, the guys are motivated and with my experience I think I definitely want to help African cycling to grow.”

Chief Marketing Officer for MTN SA, Brian Gouldie, expressed his delight with Gerdemann’s signing. “MTN is excited that Linus Gerdemann will be joining Team MTN- Qhubeka p/b Samsung for the 2014 and 2015 seasons,” he said in a statement.

Proudly South African

“Our Proudly South Africa Brand is making ground-breaking strides in Europe through a very successful partnership with Team MTN-Qhubeka.

“Part of the dream of taking a South African team to the Grand Tours of cycling represents the pioneering spirit MTN SA has become well-known for entering new markets and facing new challenges. The teams’ performance and getting a South African team to the highest levels of world cycling is in essence a reflection of the character of MTN SA and why we have become the most successful African Brand,” he explained.

“We are incredibly happy to have Linus join our team,” added Team Principal Douglas Ryder. “With eight Grand Tours under his belt, he will really strengthen our team in our Grand Tour aspirations for 2014 and 2015.

“We have shown that we are able to support and build talent from the African continent, as well as resurrect riders’ careers due to the team’s high performance culture, management and sponsor support.

Qhubeka Project

“Our focus of racing for the Qhubeka Project inspires our riders to do so much more on the bike and give back to the sport they love. Their success makes a huge difference to so many other people.

“A GC (general classification) rider like Linus will bring our team more opportunities as we aim to take African cycling to the highest levels of world cycling.”

Left without a contract for 2013, Gerdemann was left to look for motivation and keep fit with no set goals. He said MTN Qhubeka team captain’s Gerald Ciolek’s victory in the Milan-San Remo Classic was a major motivator in his decision to join the South African line-up.

“I’ve trained for a long time with him. For me, he is like a young cycling brother as we spend a lot of time together on the bike and off the bike.

“It was such a great moment for me,” he said, recalling Ciolek’s huge win, “because I knew he had that potential and I was really happy to see him use it in one of the most important races on the calendar, and that was very inspiring and motivating for me.”

Seamless transition

Gerdemann said he expected joining a team registered in South Africa would be a seamless transition.

“I have travelled a lot but, for me, South Africa is probably the nicest country I have been to. I’ve spent one entire summer in Cape Town for three or four months and really loved it.

“Another time I spent a few weeks in Crystal Springs for altitude training, which isn’t too far from Johannesburg.

“For me South Africa is fascinating and an amazing place.”

SAinfo reporter