MTN-Qhubeka announce Tour de France long list

MTN-Qhubeka today announced the long-list of prospective riders for their history-making Tour de France squad in July, when the team becomes the first from Africa to compete in the French Grand Tour.

Seven Africans and four foreign riders are on the list of 11 under consideration for the final roster of nine that will be at the grand depart in Utrecht, Netherlands on July 4.

"The squad selected is perfect for the event this year, consisting of specialist climbers, classics type riders, time triallists and riders that can spend hours riding in the breakaways going for stage wins," said MTN-Qhubeka Team Principle Douglas Ryder.

"This is our chance to open the door for African cycling and to race for a greater cause to mobilise 5,000 African students on bicycles. We are about to realise our dream and through this we want to encourage others to follow theirs."

South African national road race champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg, African continental road race champion Louis Meintjes, and sprinter Reinardt Janse van Rensburg are on the long list, which also includes fellow Africans Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane and Youcef Reguigui.

"For me to be selected and to be in the squad for the Tour de France is a dream come true, and this year a lot of dreams came true for me so far," said van Rensburg.

"After years of hard work and dedication I have the South African national stripes on my back as South African champion, and to have a chance to represent my team and country as well as our greater cause in the Tour de France is a great honour and the reason why I am riding my bike."

The four non-African riders on the roster include Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, Steve Cummings of Great Britain, Serge Pauwels of Belgium and Tyler Farrar of the US.

"I am looking forward to being part of the first African team that takes on the Tour de France," said Boasson Hagn, who recently won the final stage of Tour des Fjords. "It is nice to be part of writing history. We are going to have a strong team, and hopefully we will get some good success."

MTN-Qhubeka will head to a number of races around Europe over the coming month, including the Criterium du Dauphine and Ster ZLM Toer. The final nine roster for the Tour de France roster will be decided after the upcoming events. 

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