MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung announced on Friday that they have received an invitation from AEG to compete for the first time at this year's Amgen Tour of California. The South African Professional Continental team will make their debut as one of the 18 teams invited to race in the stateside event held from May 10-17.
“It’s the first time our team will be doing the Tour of California,” said MTN-Qhubeka director Michel Cornelisse. “Not only is it an important race for our sponsors but also for us it is a really important race and we really look forward to going there. Obviously when we are there we will want to play a prominent role in the action at the front of the race.”
The team has been invited to a series of top-level races. They received their first Grand Tour invitation to the Vuelta a España last year and recently received a wildcard invitation from the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) to compete at the Tour de France in July, making them the first African-registered team to compete at the French Grand Tour.
The team have bolstered their roster this year with a series of new signings including Matthew Goss from Orica-GreenEdge, Tyler Farrar from Garmin-Sharp, Theo Boss from Belkin, Edvald Boasson Hagen from Team Sky and Steven Cummings from the BMC squad.
American sprinter Farrar won stage 4 of the Tour of California during the 2013 edition. After spending most of his career with Jonathan Vaughters’ Slipstream Sports, he made the move to MTN-Qhubeka for the next two seasons and will no doubt want to represent his new team in California.
AEG announced the host cities for the starts and finishes of this year’s edition. The race will start with stage 1 in Sacramento, stage 2 from Nevada City to Lodi, stage 3 in San Jose, stage 4 from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach, stage 5 from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita, stage 6 in Big Bear Lake (ITT), stage 7 from Ontario to Mt. Baldy and the race will finish during stage 8 from Los Angeles to Pasadena.
“We don’t know the parcours yet but there is a time trial and that’s always a good test against the others,” Cummings said. “Generally the race always has a balanced route, sometimes it is a bit hot but it’s normally a really good race. It comes at a good time in the year, just as a lot of riders are getting back into racing after the classics and it is used by a lot of riders in preparation for the Tour de France.”