Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung is Africa’s first ever UCI registered Professional Continental cycling team. The talented athletes in Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung race to build exposure for Qhubeka’s rural initiatives and ride to inspire potential new athletes within the community of Qhubeka bicycle recipients.
Earlier this year, the team took part in the Milano Sanremo (MSR) race in Italy, which is the longest cycling classic in the world and the biggest one-day race in Italy.
This year, Qhubeka was chosen as the beneficiary of the pre-race gala dinner, which was very exciting for Qhubeka and for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. The funds raised from the gala event purchased 110 bicycles for Qhubeka recipients. As the Qhubeka representatives and the team celebrated this good news alongside the other dinner guests, however, they had no idea about the thrills that were still to come on race day.
Although the MSR is meant to be a spring race, the weather conditions were so severe on the day of the race that part of the route had to be neutralised. The brake cables on the atheletes’ bicycles were frozen and they had to try to pick pieces of ice off of their helmets and glasses with their chilled hands. Morale was low and many riders and teams considered dropping out of the race.
It was amidst these testing conditions that Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung demonstrated enormous spirit and perseverence. Despite being underdogs and despite the African riders being far less used to icy weather conditions than their European counterparts, the team continued with the race. As the race drew to to a close, Gerald Ciolek pushed ahead and won the race for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, edging out race favourite Peter Sagan and bringing African cycling into the spotlight for cycle enthusiasts around the world.
Here’s a video from RCS Sport showing highlights from the gala dinner and the MSR race: