MTN-Qhubeka will become the first African-registered team to compete in the WorldTour when it lines up at Tirreno-Adriatico, which gets underway in San Vincenzo on Wednesday.
The team will be led by Gerald Ciolek, and MTN-Qhubeka’s roster in Italy will primarily be composed of European riders, although South African champion Jay Thomson and his fellow countryman Jaco Venter also feature.
“The 2013 Tirreno–Adriatico will see the first African-registered Pro Continental Team take the start in a WorldTour event,” said team principal Doug Ryder. “I want to thank RCS Sport for having a great vision of globalising world cycling and for giving our team the opportunity to participate and race against the best cyclists in the world.”
Ciolek has enjoyed a solid start to the 2013 season and will use Tirreno-Adriatico as preparation for Milan-San Remo. The German showcased his form with 5th place at the Trofeo Laiguegla and a strong display at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on successive weekends, and he has since claimed his first win of the season at the Three Days of West Flanders.
MTN-Qhubeka’s general classification challenge will be led by Sergio Pardilla, who finished third overall at the Tour de Langkawi last week.
“The appearance at Tirreno-Adriatico is our first big highlight,” said sport director Jens Zemke. “In Italy we want to justify our invitation to our first WorldTour race with a good performance. We will look to Gerald Ciolek in the sprint arrivals, and in the mountains, Sergio Pardilla will be our man.”
MTN-Qhubeka for Tirreno-Adriatico: Gerald Ciolek, Ignatas Konovalovas, Andreas Stauff, Martin Reimer, Jay Thomson, Kristian Sbaragli, Jaco Venter and Sergio Pardilla.