Giro d’Italia stage winner Konovalovas signs for growing MTN Qhubeka team
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Giro d’Italia stage winner Konovalovas signs for growing MTN Qhubeka team

by Shane Stokes at 10:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Former Cervélo Test Team rider joins up again with Campana and Zemke

Ignatas KonovalovasThree years after he won the final time trial in the Giro d’Italia while with the Cervélo Test Team, Ignatas Konovalovas has signed an agreement to race with the expanding, ambitious MTN Qhubeka squad.

The South African setup is pushing to become the first Pro Continental team from that continent and last week announced the signature of the Tour of Portugal stage winner Jay Thomson.

Konovalovas is the second solid new name, and the 26 year old appears to have a good future ahead of him. He is a four time national time trial champion and showed his promise when he took silver in the 2009 European road race championships.

“To have a Grand Tour stage winner like Ignatas on the team is fantastic from a mentorship point of view,” enthuses Team Principal Douglas Ryder. “Our goal in signing riders like Ignatas is to help fast-track our team to success and pass on the knowledge of racing in the World Tour.

“He is still only 26 years old and has ridden at the World Tour level for 5 years and is a great time triallist. In a different environment like ours I see him coming back to winning races next year.”

He rode the Tour de France two years ago and was fourth in the final time trial. Since then he has been with Movistar for the past two seasons, clocking up fewer results, but should have more room for personal ambition next year.

Also coming on board are two additions to the management contingent; former Cervelo Test Team manager Thomas Campana, who was involved in setting up that squad, and former Lampre directeur sportif Brent Copeland. The latter has been working with Moto GP rider Ben Spies recently, but now returns to cycling.

Campana will be involved in recruiting new European riders as well as dealing with logistics. He and Konovalovas previously worked with Jens Zemke, who had a director’s role with Cérvelo.

The rider said that being alongside familiar faces was part of his decision. “I am happy to be working with Jens and Thomas again,” he explained. “Jens knows how to motivate a rider and you always feel calm when with him. My decision was made because I trust the people on board at MTN-Qhubeka. People I know from my past, who helped me achieve good results.”

Konovalovas’ determined to make a mark in 2013, both for himself and also for the ambitious squad. “I am really looking forward to reaching good form next year again. Especially concentrating on time trials. I hope to make myself and the team proud.”


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