MTN-Qhubeka celebrating after receiving wildcard invites to Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MTN-Qhubeka celebrating after receiving wildcard invites to Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo

by VeloNation Press at 7:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico
African team making history in RCS Sport events

MTN QhubekaThe MTN-Qhubeka team is set to be the first African-registered squad to ride the Milan Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico races, with the Pro Continental setup receiving the considerable boost of an invite to two of the biggest early season events.

Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport has given the team a wildcard to Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo, putting it ahead of many European based squads for those events.

Team principal Douglas Ryder is clear about the importance of those invites, thanking RCS Sport for the chance. “It was a major goal for us this year to get into those two races as they are two of the most prestigious ones on the calendar,” he said. “Tirreno-Adriatico will offer some tough stage racing while Milan-Sanremo, at almost 300km's long, will offer our riders a great learning opportunity in tough one day Classic conditions.”

The team will look to its strongest riders to perform in the March races, knowing that after getting a wildcard, they need to be both prominent and competitive in the events. One of those it will rely on is the former world under 23 champion Gerald Ciolek, who had pinpointed those events as ones he was hoping to compete in during 2013.

“I've been building the early part of my season around these two races. To have them confirmed for our team is great,” he said. “People may have wondered why I signed for a Pro Continental team but I think everyone is starting to believe why this project is so special. I am looking forward to heading to Italy for these races.”

The team said this week that it had backed down on its initial aim of a wildcard for the Giro d’Italia, saying that it needed more time. Riding Milan-Sanremo and Tirreno Adriatico is important in building a relationship with RCS Sport, and it will hope that it can ride the three week Tour in the seasons ahead.

The team has a medium-term goal of securing a WorldTour licence and thus gaining automatic invites to those races, as well as the Tour de France. Longer ahead, it wants to develop an African world champion and to put one million children on bikes in Africa via its partner, Qhubeka.

The announcement of RCS Sports’s other selections for Tirreno Adriatico and Milan Sanremo will follow today, as will the wildcard places for the Giro d’Italia.


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