Campana and Lacambra join MTN Qhubeka management team, will help it push for Giro ride
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Campana and Lacambra join MTN Qhubeka management team, will help it push for Giro ride

by VeloNation Press at 4:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team launched in Johannesburg, debut Grand Tour amongst top goals

MTN QhubekaTwo days after the team had its official launch in South Africa, the MTN Qhubeka squad has announced that Thomas Campana, the former Cervélo Test Team manager, is coming on board in the same capacity for the African team. He will be joined by another from the former Cervélo setup, the Spaniard Manel Lacambra.

The latter will work as a directeur sportif with the team, and together they will hope to boost MTN Qhubeka’s chances of being given a wildcard selection to the Giro d’Italia or another Grand Tour.

Campana, who also worked for several years running women’s teams, had essentially retired from the sport prior to his call-up. “I was following the races in my campervan. I didn’t want to get involved with any team again but when I saw the proposal and what Team MTN-Qhubeka stands for, I just got emotional,” he said.

“It’s a team working for a social cause with Qhubeka and I thought this is a great chance to do something for someone else.”

The African organisation aims to provide bikes to children and others in Africa who don’t have the money to buy their own, and has made huge differences to communities. Giro d’Italia organisers RCS travelled to South Africa last month and handed over 58 Qhubeka Buffalo bikes that the company had paid for, using funds raised at its gala dinner held before the Milan-Sanremo Classic in March.

The team hopes that act plus seeing the work the charity does first hand will increase the chances of RCS Sport giving it the nod when the Giro wildcards are distributed.

“We’re very motivated to be even more successful now because it makes a difference to the sporting side but also to our social cause,” said Campana.

He had previously worked in a consultancy role in the past season, and his signing is something that team principal Douglas Ryder believes will be a big boost.

“Thomas bring a huge amount of experience to our team. He’s dealt with some of the biggest athletes and teams in the sport and has an incredible understanding of technology,” he said.

“He is the perfect candidate to bring our team to the next level and to the Grand Tours of world cycling. He has won jerseys and stages with great athletes in the Grand Tours and he has a passion for performance and getting the best out of people. That’s exactly what our team is about.”

As for Lacambra, he will move to the team’s base in Lucca, Italy, in order to be able to have daily contact with the African athletes. Ryder believes he will slot in quickly.

“Manel is a incredibly funny and a good guy who gels with anybody,” he said. “He’s got a great personality and has lifted the spirit of our team. Cycling is a tough sport and Manel comes with huge experience as he’s worked with the US national team and been involved in men’s and women’s cycling.

“We’ve already seen the last few days at our training camp that he is well-liked and has great ability when it comes to interacting with the athletes.”

Complete squad confirmed, Augustyn settling in well:

Meanwhile the team presented 25 riders at its launch in the MTN Innovation Centre in Johannesburg on Monday. Unveiled with a new black colour scheme, the 2014 lineup includes Milan-Sanremo winner Gerald Ciolek, who took a number of important victories for the team last year, plus Tour of Portugal stage winner Sergio Pardilla, Tour of Korea stage victor Kristian Sbaragli, and Tour of Rwanda achievers Jay Thomson, Johan Van Zyl and Louis Meintjes.

Also remaining on board are the Tsgabu Gebremariam Grmay and Ignatas Konovalovas, national championship title holders for Ethiopia and Lithuania, plus Sharjah Cycling Tour winner Youcef Reguigui.

Several important additions have been made. These include Linus Gerdemann, a former team-mate of Ciolek at T-Mobile and HTC, and a past stage winner and yellow jersey wearer in the Tour de France. Also coming on board is the talented South African John Lee Augustyn and the Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot.

Ryder noted the strong season the team had, and said he was looking forward to chasing more success in the months to come. “We ended 2013 as the team with the second most victories from all Professional Continental teams. It’s a remarkable achievement in our first year in this division,” he said. “The challenge now is to keep being innovative and improve our high performance culture in the team. We’ve assembled a group of athletes that we’re very excited about and are building our season around a Grand Tour debut.”

The Giro d’Italia is the big target, in terms of a wildcard, and the team has consequently started an online campaign called #GetAfricaToTheGiro.

Augustyn said that he is settling in well. “The last few weeks has been quite nice to bond with the team. It’s nice to see the different cultures. The launch was really nice to get to know some of the new sponsors and finally reveal the new kit. The #GetAfricaToTheGiro campaign with the pink hands was amazing to see in person for everyone and there’s so much excitement around the team.

“I’ve been on a few professional teams and from what I have seen in the sport, this team is so different. It’s so professional. It usually takes a year or two for a new team to establish itself but the team has had an incredible 2013 and there’s no reason why we can’t reach our goals for 2014. We’ve got an incredible roster and I am looking forward to the next few years.”

So took the other riders, who completed the team training camp today. They will continue their buildup in the next few weeks, after which squads will start heading to the early-season races.

MTN Qhubeka roster for 2014:

Adrien Niyonshuti (RWA)
Andreas Stauff (GER)
Bradley Potgieter (RSA)
Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI)
Dennis van Niekerk (RSA)
Ferekalsi Debesay (ERI)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
Jani Tewelde (ERI)
Jay Thomson (RSA)
Johann van Zyl (RSA)
John-Lee Augustyn (RSA)
Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)
Linus Gerdemann (GER)
Louis Meintjes (RSA)
Martin Reimer (GER)
Martin Wesemann (RSA)
Merhawi Kudus (ERI)
Meron Russom (ERI)
Sergio Pardilla (SPA)
Songezo Jim (RSA)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Youcef Reguigui (ALG)


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