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First race apart from national champions team will contest in South Africa
For Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, the Mzansi Tour will give the UCI Professional Continental Team the chance to race on home soil. The race starts in Johannesburg on Tuesday and on the startline will be South African national champion, Louis Meintjes.
Meintjes will be joined by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Youcef Reguigui and Sergio Pardilla who is returning from injury and team Principal Douglas Ryder will take on the Sports Director responsibilities for the race.
"As Africa’s only Professional Continental cycling team with our head office in Johannesburg, South Africa and main sponsors being South African, The Mzansi Tour is a very important event for us. MTN and Samsung, as well as the many supporters of the team including MTN Club100, rarely get the opportunity to see the team racing in SA so this will be a special event for the team," Ryder said.
"This team is proudly South African and we race all over the world to try and make a difference to many people through Qhubeka and the #BicyclesChangeLives initiative.
"In every race we participate in we attempt to put the best riders forward to meet the demands of the race. We have a really balanced team of youth and experience coming to the Mzansi Tour and our intention is to race hard and try and win.
Ryder is under no illusions that it will be tough racing over the four stages and opening team time trial prologue. "We know we may be looked at as the favourites for the Mzansi Tour but no race is easy and often when you are the favourites it is even harder because other teams can race against a favourite’s team. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the event and will take each day at a time. South African cycling is at a high level, last year in the Tour of Rwanda we were beaten by Dylan Girdlestone who is riding for Team Bonitas this year so it will be a tough event."
The race starts with the 5km TTT prologue around Emmarentia Dam with Stage 1 a 140km jaunt from Golden Gate to Clarens on roads that would suit a puncheur with a short sharp climb near the end of the stage.
The queen stage of the race is a reversal of the previous day's start and finish with a mountain top finish in the Golden Gate National Park with the final two stages set to be decided in a bunch sprint.