The MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung team today announced the signing of Eritreans Daniel Teklehaimanot and 19-year-old talent Merhawi Kudus for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The two join previously-announced signing Linus Gerdemann and all 21 riders from this year's squad who are being retained for 2014.
Teklehaimanot, a multi-time national and African road and time trial champion comes from the Orica-GreenEdge team after a season abbreviated by visa issues, while Kuduis will make his professional debut with the South African-registered team.
Both riders are a product of the UCI World Cycling Centre: Teklehaimanot, at 24, is a relative veteran of European racing having spent two years at the WorldTour level and completed his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España in 2012. Kudus is a fresh, young talent who found success as a trainee with Bretagne - Séché Environnement with a second place in the Vuelta a Leon.
Team principle Doug Ryder sought out Teklehaimanot as a leader for the team alongside its Europea riders like Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek and new signing Gerdemann.
"We've brought Daniel on board to give him a leadership position as we believe he's ability and talent deserves that," Ryder said. "We're investing heavily in all our athletes who are on the team and they're not here because of anything else except that we believe in them. The fact that we've not lost any of our riders this year and are adding two African and one European to the roster speaks about our environment and belief in the fruits African cycling will bear on the world stage."
The pair of Eritreans will join three of their compatriots on the team, which will have 17 African and seven European riders next year. For Teklehaimanot, the mix was part of the appeal, as was the team's bid for a wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia for 2014.
"I've chosen this team because it's an African team from home," Teklehaimanot said. "I'm very excited and am already thinking about next year and am preparing for it. I believe in my talent and myself. I was excited with Orica-Greenedge when I could go to a Grand Tour last year and that's what I am looking forward to with MTN-Qhubeka now too.
"It just made sense to come to this team for Merhawi and I. He is a very strong climber and will do well in this team. I think African cycling is in a good place and the door is open to Europe like Daryl Impey showed everyone this year. There are strong teams out there but MTN-Qhubeka is getting stronger and stronger and this is a great project, not only the racing but the Qhubeka project too and I feel good that I can wear the jersey and promote the project."
Ryder has confidence that the pair will be part of the team's Grand Tour ambitions in the near and long-term future.
"Daniel will add depth to our line-up as we prepare for our first Grand Tour while we've identified Merhawi as a massive talent for the future," Team Principal, Douglas Ryder said. "Merhawi a young rider but has shown maturity and ability beyond his years."