After making waves at the Tour de France, MTN-Qhubeka have set their sights on bigger successes next season. The team have been looking into signing sprinter Mark Cavendish, who is out of contract with Etixx-QuickStep at the end of the season. The Manxman has been linked with a number of moves, however, including a move to Trek Factory Racing.
“We had some discussions with Mark’s manager but it’s all about funding and there are a whole lot of things that go with it,” MTN-Qhubeka team principal Doug Ryder confirmed to Cyclingnews. “For us, what is important is the culture that fits into the team and the value that it can bring. We’re not going to change our culture, we’re not going to change the strategy of our team. Those things are really important to us.”
MTN-Qhubeka are looking to bring on the sprinter with a view of turning WorldTour either this year or next. Currently only 17 teams are registered as WorldTour following the merger of Cannondale and Garmin, and the demotion of Europcar. Ryder says that the decision on whether to do it in 2016 or wait another season has to be made by the end of the month. The team are currently 50-50 according to Ryder, with sponsors and other considerations still to be secured. It is thought that Dimension Data could step up as a named sponsor next season but the team are still finalising their plans.
“We have to speak to the UCI on August 1. The rules can be a little bit loose because they would love another WorldTour team but that decision has got to be made in the next two weeks,” Ryder said. “Once the Tour de France is finished we’ll have a sit down with our partners and strategise and plan for that and so we’ll know in the next two weeks if we should go WorldTour or if we should stabilise the team with what we have at the moment. We’ve always taken small steps to go up and we never want to embark on something we can’t sustain. That will probably be the only factor that we could see us not making WorldTour next year.”
The team brought on nine new riders at the end of last season, seven who were not African, including sprinters Matt Goss, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Tyler Farrar. The riders were brought with a view to mentoring the African talent but also produce the early season performances in the classics. They had a disappointing classics though, with Matt Brammeier’s Tour of Flanders break possibly their highlight, and that is where they are looking to strengthen their line-up.
“All the young talent will come from Africa but if you want to go WorldTour then you have to have a lot of depth,” Ryder said. “The classics is where we want to bring in more depth, we want to bring in more riders who can win races. The classics are the oldest most famous races in the world and with massive amount of exposure in terms of media and people that watch them and we want to get our Qhubeka charity to as many people as possible.”
There are also plans for the team to formalise their feeder squad and register it as a Continental team.