Cavendish sees big potential in MTN-Qhubeka team

Mark Cavendish said he decided to join the MTN-Qhubeka team because he believes the African squad has the potential to become one of the biggest teams in the world.

Cavendish is the big-name signing for the team for 2016, which will become Team Dimension Data after landing a new title sponsor and significant backing from Deloitte and other sponsors. Also joining the team are Mark Renshaw, Bernhard Eisel, Cameron Meyer, Nathan Haas, Omar Fraile and Kanstantsin Siutsou. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tour de France stage winner Steve Cummings and Italian sprinter Kristian Sbaragli, Theo Bos and the USA's Tyler Farrar are again part of the team for 2016, as are African riders Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Adrien Niyonshuti, Merhawi Kudus and Songezo Jim.

Cavendish was speaking to the Cape Talk morning radio show in Cape Town the day after arriving in the South African city for the team’s first training camp.

He will spend the week with his new teammates mixing morning training rides with meetings and team activities in preparation for the 2016 season. He will not train in the African team's colours because, like other riders, he is under contract with his present team until the end of the year.  

“I see the forward trajectory of the team. It has got incredible roots and an incredible story. In all honesty, I see it becoming the biggest team in professional cycling in a few years,” Cavendish told Cape Talk radio show.

“What Doug Ryder has done, taking it technically from a club team in South African to being, well, being one of the fans’ favourite teams in the world and one of the biggest teams in the world. It’s a pretty big thing, with big ambition and something that has been realised. To see what they do on the bike and off the bike makes it attractive to any professional bike rider no matter what their status is.”

Cavendish has already learnt about the team’s Qhubeka charity efforts, which helps fund bikes for poor African children, so they can ride to school.

“That was one of the biggest things which drew me to the team and I think it’s what draws other people to the team,” Cavendish said. “It’s more than just putting a name on the jersey, there’s a movement to the team. It’s pretty incredible what they’re doing. We aim to get 5,000 bikes every year. When you realise what a difference that makes, you understand what change a bike can make to a life.”

Cavendish seemed to enjoy riding in the Cape Town sun after spending time at altitude with the Great Britain track squad but knows the team camp with be vital in laying the foundations for 2016, and building team moral and unity.

“I was I Cape Town for the Cape Argus (in the spring) but I got really ill and so I didn’t get to see much of Cape Town. I hope to see more out on the bike this week,” he said.

“Were going to be riding every day for four or five hours. We’ve got full days because this team meeting is the only time of the year that the whole team, the whole of Dimension Data will be all together,” he explained. “There’s a lot of stuff to organise for next year. However we’re going to climb up Table Top Mountain, which I didn’t get to do last time. I really like it here. I wanted to bring my family down but I’ve got to get back to train with the national team until December 24.”

Cyclingnews will attend the MTN-Qhubeka training camp and will exclusive interviews and news throughout the week. You can view a gallery from the team's training camp in Cape Town, here.

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