Yesterday, 14 January, the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) announced the 22 teams that will participate in the 2015 Tour de France. Along with the 17 World Tour teams, five wild card teams were announced with MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung receiving an invitation. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung thanked the ASO for the invitation and congratulated the other four wild card recipients: Europcar, Cofidis, Bretagne-Seche Environnment and Bora-Argon 18.
To receive a wild card for the Tour de France is a dream come true for the entire MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung team, and also a historic moment for World and African cycling. This will be the first time an African registered team will take part in the biggest cycling race in the world.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung pointed out that the journey to reach the Tour de France has been a seven-year adventure and it certainly would not have been possible without the team’s fantastic partners, particularly MTN, which has shared the team’s vision from the beginning, as well as Samsung, which has been on board since 2013. The added support from all the other partners, new and old, has allowed the dream of putting an African team on the starting line of the Tour de France to become a reality. This is also an opportunity to expose the work of Qhubeka to the world and in doing so, we will be able to change more lives in Africa through bicycles.
The 2015 Grand Depart will take place on 4 July, starting with a 14km time trial in Utrecht. The riders will tackle 21 stages, covering 3344km in total before the 2015 Le Tour finishes on the famous Champs Elysees on 26 July. The ASO also announced the 20 teams that will take part in the Critérium du Dauphiné, and MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is delighted to have been included in this event as well. The Critérium du Dauphiné is a World Tour event starting on 7 June, which will be vital in our Tour de France preparation.
“When I received a text message from Christian Prudhomme saying welcome to the Tour de France and asking me to call him back, I simply could not contain myself, I shouted to my wife and then things started going crazy,” says Doug Ryder, Team Principal. “I have been waiting my whole life for this news. The pressure over the years of getting partners and riders to believe in this dream is finally a reality. We have so many people to thank that have been a part of this journey and I know our riders and staff will be the most motivated team in the world right now ahead of our second training camp starting this weekend. We will not only ride in the Tour, we will compete and we will have the support of the whole continent behind us.”
Brian Smith, General Manager, says, “I feel extremely proud to be part of a bit of African Cycling history. Its been a lot of hard work from many people and today has been very emotional when it was confirmed we would ride the Tour de France. This is a new chapter for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung and we hope there will be many more chapters to come. This team is about making a difference and we are looking forward going to the Tour and making sure we make all our partners and supporters happy.”
Sarah Phaweni, Qhubeka Executive Director, says, “Qhubeka would like to congratulate Team MTN-Qhubeka on the Tour de France wild card entry. This is proof that any dream is possible if you keep moving forward. The team has supported and raised awareness for the work we do as a non-profit for many years. It is great to have the chance to return the favour as we cheer for an African Team in the Tour de France.”
For more information on Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, visit the team’s website.