HTC-HighRoad sports director Jens Zemke moves to MTN-Qhubeka
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

HTC-HighRoad sports director Jens Zemke moves to MTN-Qhubeka

by Xylon van Eyck at 4:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
African team hoping to go Pro Continental in 2013

Jens ZemkeMTN-Qhubeka unveiled its future plans today by announcing several new African riders as well as HTC-Highroad sports director Jens Zemke. The former professional has previously worked for Cervelo Test Team before moving to the most winning team in the world, HTC Highroad.

The South African continental team is looking to be based in Europe for five months next year with Zemke coming on board to spearhead the project.

“Our mechanic Gary Blem was sitting with me in the car during the Vuelta when the news that HTC-Highroad was stopping came out. He asked me what I thought of [joining] a South African team. I said to him what do you mean and he said, ‘what about MTN with [team owner] Douglas Ryder?’” Zemke told VeloNation today.

“He told me he wants to make the team bigger and take it forward. I’m very fond of South Africa. As a rider I did many races here and I also have relatives in Johannesburg so my heart said I should do it. Its also social work, for me it’s a big challenge to improve the riders and take them to the next level.”

With 70 international race day this season, the team has had some success abroad with Reinardt janse van Rensburg winning a stage of the Jayco Hearld Sun Tour in Australia. The 22 year old is also currently second in the general classification at the Tour of Hainan with one day left to go.

The team has added more riders to its roster with the hopes of registering as a Pro Continental team in 2013. Eritreans Jani Tewelde, Meron Russom and Natnael Berhane have been signed, so too Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay and South African Songezo Jim, which will bring the men’s team to a total of fourteen.

When asked what impact he could have on these developing riders Zemke said, “I have European experience. I rode for 25 years, the last ten of them professionally and I have been a sports director for ten years. The last year with [Mark] Cavendish and the years before with Thor Hushovd and Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre. I have learnt a lot, so I know everything about how the business runs. I know the technical and business side but I can’t pedal for the riders. They have to bring their engine and I’ll try to make the best out of it.

“It won’t be easy, especially racing in Europe. It’s another level to racing in South Africa. We’re figuring out the calendar of which races we can do but with riders such as Reinardt who is doing such a fantastic job at the moment, we have a chance to get good results.”

MTN-Qhubeka will also continue sponsorship of its mountain bike, BMX and women’s road teams with the Absa Cape Epic and Olympic Games a big focus for the team.

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