19 January 2015
Top South African cycling outfit Team MTN-Qhubeka has received an invitation to participate in the 2015 Tour de France – the first African team ever to do so in 101 years.
The 22 teams riding in the race were announced by the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) last week. Along with the 17 World Tour teams, five wild card teams also issued – including one to the South African team.
This year will be the first time in the race’s 101 year history that a team from Africa will participate.
“To receive a wild card for the Tour de France is a dream come true for the entire MTN- Qhubeka p/b Samsung team, while it is also a historic moment for World and African cycling,” MTN-Qhubeka says on its website.
“We are extremely proud to be able to represent South Africa and Africa on one of the biggest stages in world sport.”
The other four wild card recipients are Europcar, Cofidis, Bretagne-Seche Environnment and Bora-Argon 18.
‘Support of the whole continent’
The 2015 Grand Depart will take place on the 4th July, starting with a 14km time trial in Utrecht. The riders will tackle 21 stages, covering 3 344km in total before the 2015 Le Tour finishes in Paris, on the Champs Elysees, on 26 July.
The ASO has also included the South Africans in the Criterium du Dauphine, which starts on 7 June, and which is “vital in our Tour de France preparation”, the teams says.
“I have been waiting my whole life for this news,” said Douglas Ryder, the team’s principal. “The pressure over the years of getting partners and riders to believe in this dream is finally a reality.”
He said that the would not only ride in the Tour, they would compete “and we will have the support of the whole continent behind us”.
Daryl Impey became the first South African to ever wear the yellow jersey in 2013.
The team helps raise awareness of the work done by Qhubeka,a charity that gives bicycles to children in Africa to attend school.
According to their website, 8-million children walk to school every way, with more than 2-million walking more than 30 minutes each way.
- Read more: Qhubeka: changing lives through bicycles
“Qhubeka would like to congratulate Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung on their Tour de France Wildcard entry,” said Sarah Phaweni, Qhubeka’s executive director.
“This is proof that any dream is possible if you keep moving forward. The team has supported and raised awareness for the work we do as a non-profit for many years. It is great to have the chance to return the favour as we cheer for an African Team in the Tour de France.”
Teams for 2015 Tour de France:
AG2R-La Mondiale, Astana, BMC Racing, Etixx-QuickStep, FDJ, IAM Cycling, Lampre- Merida, Lotto-Soudal, Movistar, Orica-GreenEdge, Cannondale-Garmin, Giant Alpecin, Katusha, Team LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing, MTN- Qhubeka, Bora-Argon 18, Cofidis, Europcar and Bretagne – Seche Environnement.