MTN-Qhubeka to make Grand Tour debut at Vuelta a Espana after being given wildcard
Last Updated: 02/04/14 3:35pm
MTN-Qhubeka will become the first African team to ride a Grand Tour later this year after being given a wildcard invite to the Vuelta a Espana.
The South African-registered squad had been hoping to make their debut at a three-week race at May’s Giro d’Italia, but had to reset their sights after being snubbed by organiser RCS Sport.
Amaury Sports Organisation, which runs both the Tour de France and Vuelta, has now come to the team’s aid by offering them a place at the Vuelta, which starts in Jerez on August 23 and ends in Santiago de Compostela on September 14.
The other three wildcards have been handed to Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, IAM Cycling and Cofidis.
MTN-Qhubeka team principal Doug Ryder said: “It was always our dream and ambition to take an African-registered team to the highest level in world cycling, be that the biggest one-day races, the Monuments and the Grand Tours. To be accepted into the Vuelta is the beginning of the realisation of that dream."
Focus on stage wins
MTN-Qhubeka was established in 2007 and stepped up to cycling’s second tier, UCI Pro Continental status, ahead of the 2013 season.
They made an instant impact when German sprinter Gerald Ciolek won Milan-San Remo that March, which remains the team’s best result.
Ryder added: "The team will focus on stage wins as well as the points jersey with Gerald Ciolek, who is a strong rider who can climb and sprint and the stages might suit his style of riding so this will be a focus.
"Sergio Pardilla and Linus Gerdemann will aim for a top general classification result and they will be ably supported by our African riders who will animate the race in the 13 mountain stages. The goal is to have at least 50 per cent of our start list representing riders from the African continent."