Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung begins its 2014 season at the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon next week, with two of the six riders in their line-up making comebacks to professional cycling.
John-Lee Augustyn and Linus Gerdemann will both make their debuts for the team and team principal Douglas Ryder said in a statement that he is excited to see them in action.
“It is fantastic that the return of Linus Gerdemann and John-Lee Augustyn to racing will happen in an African race on an African team. Both riders are exceptional talents that have big roles to play in Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung this year and into the future for African cycling,” Ryder commented.
“I know they cannot wait to pin numbers on their new team jerseys in 2014 and get back in the peloton. They are both really happy to be back.”
With Team MTN-Qhubeka being Africa’s first first registered UCI Professional Continental team, Ryder said the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo is significant for the team because it takes place in Africa.
“It is fantastic to be able to end our season in Rwanda and start 2014 in Gabon. We are a proudly South African and African team and it is important for Team MTN- Qhubeka p/b Samsung to race as much as feasibly possible in African races.
He added: “Our participation also adds to the profile of the events we participate in in Africa and this year’s Tour of Amissa Bongo has the best field ever for an African race, which is wonderful for cycling on the African continent.”
Algerian Youcef Reguigui will lead the team in the sprints and showed his form is strong by winning a local event in Algeria earlier this week. Songezo Jim, who finished fourth on the general classification last year, Adrien Niyonshuti, and Ferekalsi Debesay complete the line-up.
The La Tropicale Amissa Bongo runs from 13 to 19 January and features seven stages. Stage four, from Lambarene to Mouila is the longest at 190 kilometres, while the second stage from Awoua to Oyem, measuring 120 kilometres, is the shortest.
The event starts in Bitam and finishes in Libreville.
- Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa)
- Ferekalsi Debesay (Eri)
- John-Lee Augustyn (RSA)
- Linus Gerdemann (Ger)
- Songezo Jim (RSA)
- Youcef Reguigui (Alg)