The MTN-Qhubeka team has confirmed it has obtained a Professional Continental licence for the 2015 season from the UCI as it looks targets a wild card invitation to the Tour de France following the signings of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Theo Bos, Tyler Farrar, Stephen Cummings and Matthew Goss.
The UCI has yet to confirm the full list of WorldTour and Professional Continental teams registered for 2015 but the team will gather in the Western Cape of South Africa for a weeklong get together between November 23-30.
"The registration process is time consuming and needs to be done right to maintain your credibility and sustainability with the UCI," team manager Douglas Ryder said in a statement announcing the news.
"Our partners MTN, Samsung and Qhubeka are incredible and continue to support the team in all areas that culminates in a greater sense of purpose. 2015 is going to be our biggest season yet with new partners coming on board, a new team look, an awesome team line-up and exciting races we have not done before."
Chasing a Tour de France wild card invitation
MTN-Qhubeka's goal is to give talented African riders a path into the professional peloton while also raising funds for the Qhubeka bike charity that donates bikes to thousands of African children.
The team has been invited to ride both the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman in 2015 by race organiser ASO, giving them a chance to impress the Tour de France organisers before the wild card invitations for July are decided. The team rode the Vuelta a Espana this season but is hoping to ride the Tour de France in 2015.
"The main target for the team and its partners is the Tour de France in 2015. To be invited to Qatar and Oman by the ASO confirms to us that we are going in the right direction," Interim General Manager Brian Smith said. "These events are very important races for the team and we plan to go there and race hard. It sets up a year that could be a very good year for the team as we continue to create history for African Cycling. Bring it on!"
Smith has been behind the recruitment programme of the team for 2015, adding Boason Hagen, Farrar, Cummings and Bos to the roster of African riders that includes Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus and Natnael Berhane of Eritrea, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Songezo Jim, Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter, Nicolas Dougall, Louis Meintjes, Johann van Zyl from South Africa, Youcef Reguigui of Algeria, Rwanda's Adrien Niyonshuti. 2013 Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek is also on the 2015 roster, along with fellow German Andreas Stauff.
"It is great to see this team grow from strength to strength and to carry on into its third year at UCI PCT level," Smith said.
"We have brought on some very talented riders from outside of Africa to help spread the word around the world about the great work of Qhubeka, and retained many of our very talented African riders. I believe that this rich mix of experience and youth will light up cycling in 2015 and beyond."
2015 MTN-Qhubeka roster: Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, Natnael Berhane (Eritrea),
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Songezo Jim, Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter, Nicolas Dougall, Louis Meintjes, Johann van Zyl (South Africa), Youcef Reguigui (Algeria), Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda), Gerald Ciolek and Andreas Stauff (Germany); Kristian Sbaragli (Italy), Theo Bos (Netherlands), Tyler Farrar (USA), Serge Pauwels (Belgium), Stephen Cummings (Great Britain), Edvald Boassen-Hagen (Norway), Matthew Goss (Australia).