Five Africans named in MTN-Qhubeka Tour de France team

MTN-Qhubeka have confirmed the nine riders that will represent the team in its first ever Tour de France in July. The Professional Continental team secured one of the four wild card invitation to this year's race.

The final selection process for the Tour team occurred at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, and the team’s management picked all eight riders who raced there, with Merhawi Kudus coming in to complete the nine-man roster.

Daniel Teklehaimanot earned his spot by clinching the polka dot jersey at the Dauphiné – the team’s first WorldTour jersey – and will be joined by Kudus as the first Eritrean riders to take part in the Tour de France.

There are three more Tour debutants from South Africa, the African continental champion Louis Meintjes, South African champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg, and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg. There are high hopes that 23-year-old Meintjes in particular will show further glimpses of his potential after catching his impressive displays on the Dauphiné's mountain stages. 

The other four riders all have Tour de France experience, not least Edvald Boasson Hagen, who has two Tour stage wins to his name and was also part of yellow-jersey winning Sky teams in 2012 and 2013. 31-year-old Tyler Farrar also brings experience to the table, having won a stage of the Tour in 2011, and indeed a stage in all three Grand Tours. He will act as the team's road captain.

Steve Cummings will provide horsepower and should prove particularly valuable on the team time trial stage, while Serge Pauwels will add support in the mountains.

Natnael Berhane and Youcef Reguigui are the two riders from the original 11-man long list to miss out, and will now be reserve riders until the start of the Tour de France in Utrecht on Saturday July 4. There is no place for Australian sprinter Matt Goss, who has struggled all season, former Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek and recent stage winner at the Ster ZLM Toer, Matt Brammeier.  

“It was always going to be difficult to choose nine riders from 23," said general manager Brian Smith. "We have chosen the best team suited to hit our team goals. We will not go to the Tour with a dedicated sprint or GC train, but look to take opportunities in most stages as demonstrated in the Dauphiné. We will not sit back and be counted."

"Tyler Farrar will be our captain on the road and work with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg on the flatter stages. Steve Cummings will concentrate on the prologue time trial initially and look at stage opportunities in rolling terrain.

"We then have a climbing group consisting of Louis Meintjes, Merhawi Kudus, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Serge Pauwels. This group is an unknown and an exciting prospect. With Serge’s guidance we plan to feature in the high mountains. We will be taking nothing for granted and will make sure we make our own opportunities and take them when we can. The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today!"

MTN-Qhubeka for the Tour de France: Steve Commings, Tyler Farrar, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus, Louis Meintjes, Serge Pauwels, Daniel Teklehaimanot.

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