African team also invited to ASO's season opening Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman

African team MTN-Qhubeka has been granted Pro-Continental status and received invitations to both the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman.

The news, as reported on the team’s website, comes as the squad announced the signing of HotChillee development rider Nicholas Dlamini, who has been mentored by Ben Swift and Stephen Roche.

Interim General Manager Brian Smith says invitations to the ASO-run season opening races in the Middle East show that the team is getting closer to its ambitions of receiving a wildcard for the Tour de France.

“The main target for the team and its partners is the Tour de France in 2015,” he said. “To be invited to Qatar and Oman by the ASO (organisers of the Tour de France) confirms to us that we are going in the right direction.

“These events are very important races for the team and we plan to go there and race hard. It sets up a year that could be a very good year for the team as we continue to create history for African cycling.”

MTN-Qhubeka has gone about adding strength to its squad for the 2015 season, with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tyler Farrar, Matt Goss and Steve Cummings headlining the arrivals, with rumours that the team could be bumped up to WorldTour status should the UCI need to make up the numbers.

South African rider Dlamini also joins the squad having been discovered in the HotChillee Development Rider Programme in 2013.

Nicholas Dlamini in the 360NE amateur leader's jersey with Team Bulls rider Karl Platt on his wheel, Cape Rouleur 2013

Nicholas Dlamini in the 360NE amateur leader’s jersey with Team Bulls rider Karl Platt on his wheel, Cape Rouleur 2013

He said: “I am also grateful to everyone that has helped me to get to where I am today, without all the positive structured people I wouldn’t have been where I am now. I am now a role model to up coming stars and have to lead by example. Racing will also help me improve my riding and make me mentally strong. I am looking forward to 2015.”

Team Sky’s Swift added: “I knew when I met Nicholas for the first time last year how enormously talented he was. It was a fantastic humbling experience to be part of a mentoring programme.”

Current 2015 Team MTN-Qhubeka Line-up
Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, Natnael Berhane (ERI)
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Songezo Jim, Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter, Nicolas Dougall, Louis Meintjes, Johann van Zyl (RSA)
Youcef Reguigui (ALG)
Adrien Niyonshuti (RWA)
Gerald Ciolek, Andreas Stauff (GER)
Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)
Theo Bos (NED)
Tyler Farrar (USA)
Serge Pauwels (BEL)
Stephen Cummings (GBR)
Edvald Boassen-Hagen (NOR)
Matthew Goss (AUS)

More on MTN-Qhubeka

  • Geoff Waters

    Let’s hope it remains a genuinely African team and does not become colonised by European riders who have left other teams. It’s time the new look UCI ‘walked the walk’ about developing the sport in the Global South – thusfar they have only ‘talked the talk’. Why not fast track higher status to aspirant teams from exotic places? Otherwise the cosy European hegemony remains intact and the big UCI promises remain promises.