Historic day for African cycling
Earlier today the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) announced the 22 teams that will participate in the 2015 Tour de France. Along with the 17 World Tour teams, 5 wild card teams were announced with MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung receiving an invitation. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would like thank the ASO for the invitation and to congratulate the other 4 wild card recipients, Europcar, Cofidis, Bretagne-Seche Environnment and Bora-Argon 18.
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. In all the 101 previous editions of the Tour de France, this will be the first time an African registered team will take part in this, the biggest cycling race in the world. We are extremely proud to be able to represent South Africa and Africa on one of the biggest stages in world sport.
The journey to reach the Tour de France has been a 7 year adventure and it certainly would not have been possible without our fantastic partners, particularly MTN who have shared our vision from the beginning as well as Samsung who have been on board since 2013. The added support from all our other partners, new and old, have allowed the dream of putting an African team on the starting line of the Tour de France to become a reality. We are now able to expose the work of Qhubeka to the world and in doing so, we will be able to change more lives in Africa through bicycles.
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 3344km in total before the 2015 Le Tour finishes on the famous Champs Elysees on 26 July. The ASO also announced the 20 teams that will take part in the Critérium du Dauphiné and MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung are delighted to have been included in this event as well. The Critérium du Dauphiné is a World Tour event starting on the 7th of June which will be vital in our Tour de France preparation.
Douglas Ryder - Team Principal
"When I received a text message from Christian Prudhomme saying welcome to the Tour de France asking me to call him back, I simply could not contain myself, I shouted to my wife and then things started going crazy. I have been waiting my whole life for this news. The pressure over the years of getting partners and riders to believe in this dream is finally a reality. We have so many people to thank that have been a part of this journey and I know our riders and staff will be the most motivated team in the world right now ahead of our 2nd training camp starting this weekend. We will not only ride in the Tour, we will compete and we will have the support of the whole continent behind us.
Brian Smith - General Manager
"I feel extremely proud to be part of a bit of African Cycling History. Its been a lot of hard work from many people and today has been very emotional when it was confirmed we would ride the Tour de France. This is a new chapter for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung and we hope there will be many more chapters to come. This team is about making a difference and we are looking forward going to the Tour and making sure we make all our partners and supporters happy.”
Larry Annetts - MTN South Africa Chief Marketing Officer
"MTN congratulates the team for being invited to ride the 2015 Tour De France - it is a historic moment indeed for MTN South Africa and the entire continent. We wish everyone at Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung well at the upcoming Tour de France."
Sarah Phaweni - Qhubeka Executive Director
“Qhubeka would like to congratulate Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung on their Tour de France Wildcard entry. 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.”
Team MTN-Qhubeka was founded in 2007, steadily working its way up from a regional team to now being a Continental Pro team with bases in South Africa and Italy. MTN-Qhubeka’s goal is to give talented African riders a path into the pro peloton while raising funds for the Qhubeka charity.
Qhubeka is an Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa) word that means “to carry on”, “to progress”, “to move forward”. Qhubeka (qhubeka.org) helps people move forward and progress by giving bicycles in return for work done to improve communities, the environment or academic results. Having a bicycle changes people’s lives by increasing the distance they can travel, what they can carry, where they can go and how fast they can get there. To contribute to the #BicyclesChangeLives Campaign, click here.
MTN (mtn.co.za) is a long time supporter of Qhubeka and the team. Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting 219.2 million subscribers in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Learn more about the team at www.teammtnqhubeka.com.
Source: Team MTN-Qhubeka press release