Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus sign two year deals with MTN Qhubeka
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus sign two year deals with MTN Qhubeka

by VeloNation Press at 12:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
African team continues to gain strength in advance of push for Grand Tour participation

Daniel TeklehaimanotTwo of Eritrea’s top talents will join the MTN Qhubeka roster next year, boosting the strength of the team and thus enhancing its chances of getting a wildcard invitation to the Giro d’Italia or another Grand Tour.

The team won Milan Sanremo this year with Gerald Ciolek and recently signed his former team-mate Linus Gerdemann. The latter, who spoke of his motivation to lead the team in a Grand Tour, is now joined by Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus in moving to the squad, with the Eritrean duo inking two year deals.

Teklehaimanot has spent two years with the Orica GreenEdge team. His progress was held back by the difficulty of getting visas to compete abroad, with the rider doing less than twenty days of racing this season.

However, as MTN Qhubeka has so many African riders, it has worked on a system to limit any complications as a result of this.

It means he should have a much more regular race programme in the future and should be able to progress as a result.

“We’ve brought Daniel on board to give him a leadership position as we believe he’s ability and talent deserves that. We’re investing heavily in all our athletes who are on the team and they’re not here because of anything else except that we believe in them,” said team principal Douglas Ryder.

“The fact that we’ve not lost any of our riders this year and are adding two African and one European to the roster speaks about our environment and belief in the fruits African cycling will bear on the world stage.”

Teklehaimanot considers the team a very good fit as a result of this and, in addition to having less visa issues, will draw on the benefits of its technology and coaching.

“I’ve chosen this team because it’s an African team from home,” the 24 year old explained. “I’m very excited and am already thinking about next year and am preparing for it. I believe in my talent and myself. I was excited with Orica-Greenedge when I could go to a Grand Tour last year and that’s what I am looking forward to with Team MTN-Qhubeka now too.”

Teklehaimanot was the first African rider of colour to complete a Grand Tour, finishing the Vuelta a España in 2012.

That year, the multiple national champion also finished second in the mountains competition in the Tour de Pologne and was also fourteenth in the Presidential Tour of Turkey.

While he hardly raced this year due to those visa complications, he did win the 1.1 ranked Prueba Villafranca - Ordiziako Klasika.

“It just made sense to come to this team for Merhawi and I,” he explained. “He is a very strong climber and will do well in this team. I think African cycling is in a good place and the door is open to Europe like Daryl Impey showed everyone this year.

“There are strong teams out there but Team MTN-Qhubeka is getting stronger and stronger and this is a great project, not only the racing but the Qhubeka project too. I feel good that I can wear the jersey and promote Qhubeka.”

Kudus is 19 years old and won four races this season as part of the UCI World Cycling Centre. He was also second on the general classification of Vuelta Ciclista a Leon. This year he won a stage in the Tour of Eritrea and finished second overall; he was also a solid eleventh overall in the Tour de l’Avenir plus fifteenth in the under 23 road race at the world cycling championships in Florence.

He raced as a stagiare with the Bretagne - Séché Environnement team but will don MTN Qhubeka colours in future.

Ryder is pleased to bring both on board. “Daniel will add depth to our line up as we prepare for our first Grand Tour, while we’ve identified Merhawi as a massive talent for the future,” he said. “Merhawi a young rider but has shown maturity and ability beyond his years. African cycling is in a great place with Louis Meintjes finishing second in the under 23 road race at the world championships and Merhawi finishing fifteenth in the same event.”

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