MTN Qhubeka and Castelli sign two year partnership agreement
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

MTN Qhubeka and Castelli sign two year partnership agreement

by Shane Stokes at 6:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tech News
Team aiming for Grand Tour participation in 2014

Gerald CiolekAs the team continues to evolve and move towards what it hopes will be its first Grand Tour participation next year, the MTN Qhubeka team has confirmed that it will enter into a partnership agreement with the Castelli clothing company for 2014 and 2015.

Currently using Vermarc kit, the new arrangement will see the African squad switch to the Italian company from next season.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung team principal Douglas Ryder believes that there will be an advantage to the team as a result. “It’s exciting for us to enter this partnership with Castelli. Castelli leads in innovation and performance, and we are incredibly happy that Castelli wants to work with our African Pro Conti team as well as the World Cycling Centre Africa feeder team, and help our riders cope with the demands of international racing conditions,” he said in a release.

“Product development is a key component of the partnership, as is the Qhubeka project, which will benefit through contributions from global retail sales of the team clothing.”

Qhubeka is the team’s secondary title sponsor. It is is a nonprofit organization which gives bicycles to people in Africa in return for work they do for their communities, to benefit the environment or advance their schooling. Thus far 40,000 bicycles have been handed out in southern Africa.

According to Castelli vice president Dario Cremonese, that initiative is part of the reason why the company has come on board. “It’s the Qhubeka project that differentiates this team from the others. While everyone likes winning, with this team the goals go beyond the race to helping change people’s lives,” he states.

The team made headlines this year when it won Milan-Sanremo with Gerald Ciolek, and also clocked up a number of other big results. It has a long term goal of turning WorldTour and riding the Tour de France, although it will remain pro continental for at least one more season.

As a result it will need a wildcard invitation to the sport’s top events, including the Grand Tours. It is aiming to ride one three week race next year, with the Giro d’Italia thought to be the most likely option.

Entering a partnership with a well known Italian brand will likely enhance the chances. The company already backs the Garmin-Sharp team and has worked to make its kit more aerodynamic than traditional wear.

According to Castelli brand manager Steve Smith, an important element of the new partnership will be to receive feedback, requests and ideas from the team. “Castelli wants to partner with Africa’s Pro Conti cycling team to push our innovation and performance wear to the limit,” he said

“We saw this spring that some of the team’s African riders were freezing on the bike, since many of them are not used to dressing for the cold of Europe in the spring. This partnership will help us improve our products for racing and riding in cold conditions.”

In addition to Ciolek staying on board next year, his former team-mate and regular training partner Linus Gerdemann will also be part of the MTN Qhubeka squad. He has signed a contract with the team for 2014 and 2015.


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