Bicycles changing lives at the Tour de France

History is made! Daniel Teklehaimanot is the first African to wear the KOM jersey in the TdF

9 July 2015 was a proud day for African cycling as Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s Daniel Teklehaimanot of Eritrea became the first African rider to pull on the Polka Dot King of the Mountain jersey (for the best climber) at the Tour de France. He is the third African ever to wear a leader’s jersey at the Tour.

I am really happy to take the jersey,” says Daniel. “It is a big step for African cycling and I feel really proud at the moment because I have this jersey. I am excited to be able to show my team’s colours on the podium because we are trying to give 5000 bicycles to African students. Being on the podium will help our project and I want to help make a difference for my African people. It was always our plan to get this polka dot jersey, so I am happy we could do it. I am proud to be African and I am proud to be Eritrean. This is a day I will never forget.”

Credit: Gruber Images

Credit: Gruber Images

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung was founded in 2007 and has steadily worked its way up from a regional team to now being a Continental Pro team with bases in South Africa and Italy. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s goal is to give talented African riders a path into the pro peloton while raising funds for Qhubeka. The team is aiming, as Daniel said, to raise funds for 5 000 bicycles for African schoolchildren through its campaign called #BicyclesChangeLives. To contribute towards this goal, click here.

Qhubeka is an Nguni word that means “to progress”“to move forward”. Qhubeka is World Bicycle Relief’s programme in South Africa. World Bicycle Relief (worldbicyclerelief.org) is a global non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing education, health and economic opportunities by providing simple, sustainable transportation. Since World Bicycle Relief’s founding in 2005, it has delivered more than 220,000 specially designed, locally assembled bicycles to people in need.

The 5 000 bicycles that MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung hopes to raise will be distributed through Qhubeka and its implementation partners, World Vision South Africa and World Vision Switzerland, to rural African schoolchildren to help them to get to and from school through the Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP).

“Many of these children walk up to 6km to school every day, and 6km back,” says Qhubeka Executive Director, Sarah Phaweni. “With a bicycle, the time it takes them to commute – which might be up to two hours one way – is reduced by up to 75%. Data shows that once children have a bicycle, their attendance rates also increase by 28% on average, with their school marks climbing by an impressive 59%. We are thankful to Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung for all they are doing to help us change more lives by mobilising children with bicycles. Well done to Daniel Teklehaimanot and the entire team for bringing Africa into the global spotlight and proving the potential of African riders. Qhubeka is enormously thankful to the team and its sponsors for their support in helping us to demonstrate how bicycles change lives.”

Learn more about the team at www.teammtnqhubeka.com.