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A Tour De France First: An African Team Will Compete This Year

Cyclists from MTN-Qhubeka, a South African team, pose for a photo before the start of the third stage of the Vuelta, tour of Spain cycle race, in Cadiz, Spain, on Aug 25, 2014. The team, in a first for Africa, will ride in this year's Tour de France.
Miguel Angel Morenatti AP
Cyclists from MTN-Qhubeka, a South African team, pose for a photo before the start of the third stage of the Vuelta, tour of Spain cycle race, in Cadiz, Spain, on Aug 25, 2014. The team, in a first for Africa, will ride in this year's Tour de France.

An African team will be featured for the first time ever in this year's Tour de France: South Africa's MTN-Qhubeka received a wildcard today from race organizers.

"OK, we had [Kenya-born Briton] Chris Froome win the 2013 Tour de France, [South African] Daryl Impey wore the yellow jersey, but to have a whole team in the Tour de France ... For Africa and South Africa, it's going to be huge," MTN General Manager Brian Smith told VeloNews.

MTN-Qhubeka, which made its Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta in 2014, was one of five teams to receive Tour de France wildcards; the other four are: German team Bora-Argon 18, French teams Cofidis, Europcar and Bretagne-Seche Environnement.

The wildcards join the 17 UCI World Tour teams that have already qualified for the world's most prestigious cycling race that begins in July.

Africans on the nine-man MTN-Qhubeka team include South African Louis Meintjes and Eritreans Merhawi Kudus and Natnael Berhane, the two-time African champion. Others on the squad include Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, Australian Matthew Goss and American Tyler Farrar.

MTN-Qhubeka, which is backed by Samsung, helps promote the Qhubeka project, which distributes bicycles to rural African children.

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