Africa’s Most Accomplished Cycling Team: MTN–Qhubeka

Who Are MTN–Qhubeka?

If you’ve been keeping up to date on cycling, you may or may not already know the answer to this question. MTN–Qhubeka is a South African cycling team that’s found a lot of international success over the last decade, showing their ability to show up and win around the world.

History of MTN–Qhubeka

In 2007, cyclists from South Africa decided to try to start a UCI Continental Team. They succeeded in 2008 when the team was officially recognized, and by 2012 they became the first team in all of Africa to receive a Professional Continental Team license. This license was for the 2013 season, in which they were able to show their true skill and excel past expectations around the world.

Brian Smith was signed on as the general manager in 2014, bringing along with him a Cervelo sponsorship for bikes, as well as a host of unexpected, yet significant signings to the team.

Also in 2014, the team began to compete in a lot more international races in both Africa and Europe, collecting a number of first place finishes along the way. These good results ending up helping MTN–Qhubeka to make history once again, by being the first African team to ever qualify for and compete in the Tour de France.

This first happened in 2015, and 2 riders from the team managed to place first in separate stages of the competition. They also raced in the 2016 Tour de France, in which they experienced a lot more success than in 2015.

Sponsorships and Team Name Changes in 2015

After the great season in 2015, the cycling team announced a change of sponsors, which came with the latest of a series of name changes. The team is not called Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, rather than the still commonly used name MTN–Qhubeka.

This isn’t the teams’ first, as it has experienced several since it was founded in 2007 as “MTN”. It progressed on from that to Team MTN, MTN Cycling, MTN – Energade, MTN–Qhubeka, and finally the current name Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. The inclusion of Qhubeka in the new name is to show that the team supports this charity organization, while it receives funding from Dimension Data.

Major Accomplishments for MTN–Qhubeka

This cycling team boasts a lot of wins around the continents of Africa and Europe, but the riders also made history in 2015 by being the first African cycling team to compete in the Tour de France. This is a special accomplishment for the team, and it has put them into a more international spotlight.

MTN–Qhubeka is very consistent in taking home the gold in African cycling competitions. They have years of history winning significant races and time trials in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, and South Africa. In recent years, the team has also been winning in Europe, specifically in Austria, Norway, and Belarus.

In 2016, this cycling team made history again by becoming the first African team to join cycling’s top division when they were granted their UCI World Tour license.

A Brief History of the Tour de France

Introduction

Even if you don’t regularly watch cycling, nearly everyone has heard of the Tour de France for one reason or another. What makes this race so special, and what is there to know about it? I want to cover some of these questions and help you get to know the Tour de France cycle circuit a bit better.

When the Tour de France Started

The first year that the Tour de France happened was in 1903. Since then it became and annual race that typically takes place in July. There were are few years when the race did not happen, due to the World Wars in the region.

Originally, the race was hosted by a struggling newspaper that was attempting to bypass a larger rival paper.

In 1903 there were around 60 entrants in the first Tour de France race.

During the time period, a multiple stage cycle race was a great way to sell more papers around the country, so L-Auto magazine organized and funded the first ever Tour de France. At the time, this was the longest cycle race to be attempted, although shorter races around the roads had happened before. There were around 60 entrants in the first Tour de France race.

How This Race Works

From the beginning, the Tour de France has always been a multiple stage race. The first one had only five stages, but today there are twenty-one stages in the race. The race is held over twenty-three days, giving riders some time to rest between the various stages.

Individual tracks within the race change every year, but some things are kept consistent, such as the finish in Paris and riding through the Pyrenees and Alps mountains. Along the way, teams do not compete only for the first spot in each race.

There are traditionally a few different ways that riders can advance themselves during the race. The fastest finisher in each stage is what gets the most attention most times, but there are other ways of doing well in the race. These are the time trials, young rider classifications (only for those under 26), the mountain climbing points, the fastest team points, and the general points for sprinting cyclists.

The one who is said to be ahead in the race is the one with the lowest aggregate time from all the completed stages, whether or not they have outright won any of the stages so far. Between 20 and 22 teams usually compete, with each team having 9 cyclists.

Why Is This Race So Significant?

One of the main reasons that the Tour de France has become so prestigious is simply because it is the oldest Grand Tour race that is still going on to this date. It has grown in popularity and prestige as time went on, and today it is one of the most notable races to happen during the year.

In the beginning, the race was not well anticipated by many people. The hosts had to put a high prize for winning and a low entry fee in order to get participants to come and try their luck. Now, this is a highly competitive circuit that many cycling teams fight to qualify for each year!

Historical Moments from the Tour de France

Here are a few interesting historical moments from the history of the Tour de France race:

  • 2015: First ever cycling team from Africa competes in the Tour de France (MTN-Qhubeka)
  • 1969: Eddy Merckx wins 4 classifications, including the overall tour, in his first year competing
  • 1903: Maurice Garin was the first man to ever win the Tour de France
  • 2012: Bradley Wiggins becomes the first person to ever win a Tour de France and Olympic gold medal in the same year