One of the principal stories at this year’s Tour de France has been MTN-Qhubeka. The pro-continental South African squad received a wild card entry into this year’s race, becoming the first African team to compete in the biggest event in cycling. The race for MTN-Qhubeka so far, has been one of anticipation and inspiration, with a bit of luck along the way.
Dreams have come true as the African squad continue to inspire a continent. Daniel Teklehaimanot earned their first ever Tour de France jersey this week, leading the mountain points classification. InCycle spoke about their debut with a few riders, journalists, and fans to hear their views on MTN-Qhubeka reaching the Tour de France.
“It’s good for cycling, for the crowd, for the whole continent of Africa,” Martin Elmiger said, Swiss rider for IAM Cycling. “Hopefully, they give hope for the younger guys [in Africa] to start cycling as early as possible, and can go to Europe and see the world.”
The nine-man squad chosen for the Tour included for the first time, five African riders -- three riders from South Africa, and two from the small nation of Eritrea. Daniel Teklehaimanot from Eritrea has become their star.
Besides currently leading the mountain classification at the Tour, he recently won the KOM jersey at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June and his second national time trial champion this year in Eritrea. The 26-year-old is hoping to hold the KOM jersey lead at least until the first rest day this Monday.
Giving back to their communities is also very important to them. Qhubeka in Nguni means, “to carry on,” or “to progress.” It is a non-profit organization in Africa taking part in the World Bicycle Relief program by delivering thousands of bicycles in order to provide simple and sustainable transportation. The team has set a goal this year of donating 5,000 bicycles.
“Given what that team does in terms of helping a charity that puts kids and adults on bikes, as they’re going to school and to work,” Peter Cossins said, journalist with ProCycling. “It raises their profile, and I think it’s incredibly important for the Tour de France.”
Watch the video below to find out more about MTN-Qhubeka at the Tour. To subscribe to the Cyclingnews video channel, click here.