By Cycling News,
AFRICA has produced a wealth of endurance athletes in recent decades, but there has been little sign of this in the professional peloton. Chris Froome (Team Sky) may have become the first African to win the Tour de France last year, but the Kenyan born rider now races under a British licence and lives in Monaco.
One team looking to see more Africans on the global cycling circuit is MTN-Qhubeka. The Pro-Continental team was founded in South Africa in 2007 and currently has 18 African riders on its roster, and will make its grand tour debut at the Vuelta a España this month
The team principle, Douglas Ryder spoke to inCycle about the team and what it means for the growth of the sport across the continent.
“Our theory when we started this team, and my dream, was to develop an African world road cycling champion,” he said. “If you look at Africa, they’ve developed the best endurance athletes in the world, so why not cyclists?
“We can create a hero through one of our athletes who can go to the Tour de France, and go the Vuelta and win a stage. Then, the bike might become cool across Africa and if it becomes cool then people want more bikes and we’ll see that pull through and the next champion. ”
One of the African riders on the MTN roster for 2014 is Daniel Teklehaimanot, who became the first black-African rider to compete in the WorldTour when he turned pro with Orica-GreenEdge in 2012.
The 25-year-old rode the Vuelta in 2012 and is looking to return to the Spanish grand tour.