Dimension Data, in it’s first year as a WorldTour team, will make their debut at this year’s edition of the of the Giro d’Italia set to start on Friday in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Newly crowned South African road champion Jaco Venter will be one of five African riders among the nine-man team to start the Italian Grand Tour.
In a team press release, Dimension Data called the occasion a “significant moment for our team and for African cycling in general.”
Dimension Data, called MTN-Qhubeka in previous years, did not receive an invitation to the 2014 Giro d’Italia as they had hoped. They shifted focus to the Tour de France in 2015 where they had ample success, winning stage 14 into Mende with Stephen Cummings.
“We did a big push to get into the Giro d’Italia in 2014 as our first Grand Tour as Africa’s cycling team and it was not to be, so to be standing on the start line in 2016 is massive for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka,” said team principal Doug Ryder.
Dimension Data will be sending Merhawi Kudus, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Igor Anton, Omar Fraile, Kristian Sbaragli, Jaco Venter, Johann van Zyl, Jay Thomson and Songezo Jim to the start line in Apeldoorn.
“We have selected an amazing team with seven riders new to the Giro and two riders, Igor Anton and Kanstantsin Siutsou, who have 10 Giro’s between them with the latter one riding into the top 10 before and winning a stage. Both riders will play leading roles in this team in support both on and off the bike.
"To have five riders from Africa in this team racing their first Giro is a dream come true for us, as well as for our young Italian Kristian Sbaragli and Basque Omar Fraile. We hope to make an impact that matters,” Ryder said.
Venter noted how special it will be for him to wear the South African national champion’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia. Four other African riders include Kudus, from Eritrea, and van Zyl, Thomson and Jim, all from South Africa.
“The team has been based in Italy for a number of years and to be able to race the Giro d'Italia now, well it has always been a big goal for me and the team,” Venter said.
“It will also be my first Grand Tour wearing the South African champion’s jersey, which is really special. Racing so close to my European base, it feels like it is a home race for me. We have a strong team for the Giro so we are hoping for some good results and some good weather.”
Dimension Data for Giro d’Italia: Merhawi Kudus, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Igor Anton, Omar Fraile, Kristian Sbaragli, Jaco Venter, Johann van Zyl, Jay Thomson and Songezo Jim