The Dimension Data for Qhubeka Continental Team is once again set to provide a vital stepping stone towards the World Tour for aspiring U23 riders in 2019. The eleven-rider team which has become a clear pathway for African riders to the World Tour is set for its fourth full season.
In the last three seasons alone, no less than five African riders have graduated to the professional ranks from the feeder team. Stefan de Bod is their latest success story having secured a neo-pro contract with the Dimension Data for Qhubeka WorldTour team in 2019, joining fellow alumni, Ryan Gibbons, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier and Nicholas Dlamini.
For the 2019 season, the squad will comprise of six African riders, four of which are new additions to the feeder team. 20-year-old Connor Brown from South Africa, 19-year-old Natnael Tesfazion from Eritrea, and 19-year-old Mulu Hailemichael and 20-year-old Million Beza from Ethiopia.
Both heading into their 3rd seasons with the team, 2018 Tour of Rwanda champion Samuel Mugisha and punchy Moroccan sprinter, El Mehdi Chokri will look to make the most of their final year as U23 riders.
For the 2nd year in succession, the team will be registered in Italy and based out of their service course in Lucca. The registration with the FCI and support from CONI allows their African riders to obtain sport permits, without which, racing for the full season in Europe is nearly impossible for most African riders.
As an Italian registered team though, it is mandatory that they have at least four Italian riders on their squad and so they have welcomed back Matteo Sobrero and Luca Mozzato for the 2019 season. They will be joined by the talented 20-year-old duo of Alexander Konychev and Samuele Battistella.
The final rider on their roster is the Slovenian Zwift Academy winner, Martin Laveric. Laveric was one of 30,000 Zwift Academy entrants, who contributed to 850 Qhubeka bicycles being donated to kids in Africa. The 19-year-old was awarded his contract after winning the Zwift Academy final which took place at their 2019 World Tour team training camp in Cape Town last November.
The team also have former Italian professional and 2002 U23 World Champion, Francesco Chicci joining as Sports Director.
Kevin Campbell, Team Manager – “Our U23 team has been truly successful over the past 3 years in introducing young riders to the rigors of racing at the highest levels of international cycling. All of our 2019 team members have already shown that they have talent in abundance and we hope to support their development as cyclists so that they can earn positions on the best professional teams in the world.
“Naturally, while allowing our young riders to develop and improve, we also hope to achieve success in the races we compete in and we are hoping for victories in European and African events in 2019.”