The news of Dimension Data’s 2016 WorldTour licence was hidden near the bottom of a long two-page email from the UCI but it was the news everyone had wanted to hear. MTN-Qhubeka (to be known as Dimension Data) was finally confirmed as the 18th WorldTour team for 2016.
“Pack your bags for Adelaide,” read another, more direct, email from the UCI, referring to the Tour Down Under in January –the first WorldTour race of the season.
The African team had hoped to hear the news of their WorldTour licence by last Friday but the announcement continued to be pushed back. The champagne that had been lying in wait for some time was finally opened by the team’s management on Wednesday during the team’s first training camp in Cape Town, South Africa.
While it seemed almost inevitable – and the team had planned for a WorldTour calendar - the usually chatty team manager Doug Ryder was rendered almost speechless by the news. Finally finding his voice, he shared his thoughts with Cyclingnews moments after getting the confirmation.
“It’s an incredible feeling, we worked so hard over the last three years to build this team up from a team that didn’t exist to becoming the number one second division team in the world,” he said, as his phone continued to buzz consistently with messages of congratulations. “You never know until it’s really done, the UCI and the Licence Commission have their ways and means of what they need to do and focus on, to go through the right protocols.”
“To see that we have fulfilled the sporting, ethical and financial criteria for a team to be in the first division… We were nervous, we were always hoping that it would happen but now that it has happened it’s a massive weight off my shoulders. We’re sitting in the foothills of Table Mountain and looking at one of the Seven Wonders of the World and I feel like I’ve had Table Mountain lifted off my shoulders. It’s an absolute dream come true and it’s going to be an exciting few years ahead for this team.”
While Ryder was talking to Cyclingnews, his wife Nicki headed downstairs to break the news to the rest of the team who were having their lunch after a four-hour training ride. Riders and team members began flooding into the meeting room on the first floor of the Cape Town hotel. There was almost a sense of disbelief among them as they took in the news. That soon turned to joy when they read the news in black and white.
The work must continue though and it was back to business as usual for the team, with a lot of planning for 2016 still to do. But with a wine tasting session penned in for Wednesday evening, celebrations will also get underway