After months of searching, Daniel Teklehaimanot has finally found a ride for 2018, with the Eritrean climber signing for Cofidis. Teklehaimanot will make his debut in Cofidis colours in less than a week when he races at the Dubai Tour, which begins on February 6.
“We have just recruited a World Tour rider, I am sure his qualities as a climber and attacker will allow the group to reach a new level,” said new team manager Cedric Vasseur.
Teklehaimanot is part of Vasseur’s plans to revive Cofidis’ fortunes after a lacklustre few years. Vasseur replaced Yvon Sanquer as manager during the off-season. The 29-year-old Teklehaimanot, who hails from Derbarwa, Eritrea, has been without a team all winter after Dimension Data chose not to renew his contract. He completed his last race with them at the Tour of Guangxi in October.
The softly-spoken climber has been a trailblazer for his compatriots after first joining the UCI World Cycling Centre before stepping up to the professional level with GreenEdge in 2012. A multiple national time trial and road race champion, he became the first Eritrean to ride a Grand Tour when he completed the Vuelta a Espana in 2012. His time at GreenEdge was, however, punctuated by lengthy periods without racing due to problems obtaining visas, an issue that other Eritreans in the peloton have regularly faced.
Teklehaimanot moved to Dimension Data, or MTN-Qhubeka as it was then known, for the 2014 season. He was with the team when they made their Tour de France debut, spending four days in the king of the mountains jersey. Last season, he made his debut at the Giro d’Italia and held enjoyed a few days in the mountains classification jersey.
Teklehaimanot will replace Geoffrey Soupe in Cofidis’ seven-man Dubai Tour line-up. He will join sprinter Nacer Bouhanni, Loic Chetout, Nicolas Edet, Cyril Lemoine, Daniel Navarro and Bert Van Lerberghe. The rest of his calendar is not yet planned out but Cofidis said that he may remain in the Middle East and ride the Abu Dhabi Tour at the end of the month.