Apart from the national championships, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung have yet to race in South Africa as a UCI Professional Continental Team. That will all change when the team line up for the Mzansi Tour starting in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
A race that will showcase the beauty and diversity of our home country is one we are extremely excited to take part in. As the saying goes, there is no place like home and Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung are certainly glad to be home, racing in our backyard once again.
The team have sent an extremely exciting and strong group of riders to take on the Mzansi Tour as it looks to come away with the overall honours. Our national champion, Louis Meintjes, will be able to proudly put the national jersey on display here in South Africa for the first time in 2 years when he heads up the team. Meintjes will be joined by Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Youcef Reguigui and Sergio Pardilla who is returning from injury. Team Principal Douglas Ryder will take on the Sports Director responsibilities for the race.
Director Sportif – Douglas Ryder
“As Africa’s only Professional Continental cycling team with our head office in Johannesburg, South Africa and main sponsors being South African, The Mzansi Tour is a very important event for us. MTN and Samsung, as well as the many supporters of the team including MTN Club100, rarely get the opportunity to see the team racing in SA so this will be a special event for the team. This team is proudly South African and we race all over the world to try and make a difference to many people through Qhubeka and the #BicyclesChangeLives initiative.
In every race we participate in we attempt to put the best riders forward to meet the demands of the race. We have a really balanced team of youth and experience coming to the Mzansi Tour and our intention is to race hard and try and win.
We know we may be looked at as the favourites for the Mzansi Tour but no race is easy and often when you are the favourites it is even harder because other teams can race against a favourites team. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the event and will take each day at a time. South African cycling is at a high level, last year in the Tour of Rwanda we were beaten by Dylan Girdlestone who is riding for Team Bonitas this year so it will be a tough event.
If i look at the stages, each stage is tough even the team time trial as you would not want to lose any seconds to good climbers. The final criterium will be important for us and then the Queens stage on stage 2 finishing in Golden Gate is a short but steep pull on a narrow road so that will split the field somewhat. It is a great route and well planned so will make for exciting racing every day.”
Prologue Team Time Trial – Emmarentia Dam > Emmarentia Dam (5km)
A flat and fast circuit, the main challenge coming in the skill of keeping the team together from start to finish through the 7 corners
Stage 1 – Golden Gate > Clarens (140km)
An undulating course that will suit a puncheur, particularly with the short steep climb that comes to the finish
Stage 2 – Clarens > Golden Gate National Park (159km)
The races queen stage that ends with a mountain top finish in the Golden Gate National Park, not the toughest finishing climb around but enough to decide the overall classification.
Stage 3 – Bethlehem > Vanderbijlpark (201km)
A long but flat and fast stage. Definitely one for the sprinters, unless the wind picks up on the long straight roads.
Stage 4 – Blue Hills Estate Circuit (79,5km)
15 laps of 5.3km circuit, numerous corners will make a lot of accelerations quite taxing. A race for the strong sprinter.