Coming off an incredibly successful Tour de France, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will take on its third Grand Tour this year by starting the Vuelta a Espana on Saturday, 20 August in Ourense. Our African team will arrive at the start with clear goals and a defending champion in the Mountains competition.
Basque, Omar Fraile (pictured below), will lead the team into his home Grand Tour and will once again be eyeing the King of the Mountains competition. He won this classification 12 months ago and is taking to the start as one of the favourites for the blue-dotted white jersey. Fraile, who also wore the KOM jersey at the Giro d’Italia earlier this year, underlined his strong form at the Vuelta a Burgos a couple of days ago by winning the KOM competition.
Another strong climber who showed that he is coming into shape is fellow Basque, Igor Anton. He finished the Vuelta a Burgos in 9th place overall as the team’s best finisher. Anton is a former Vuelta a Espana stage winner and also managed to finish the race inside the top 10 on two occasions. He’ll add plenty of experience to the team in the coming weeks.
Two riders who will try to feed off that experience are our African talents Jacques Janse van Rensburg (pictured below) and Merhawi Kudus. The 2015 South African road race champion, Janse van Rensburg, played a key role in the team’s recent success in the build-up races to the Vuelta and will be an important rider once the road gradient kicks up. Eritrean, Kudus, will start the 4th Grand Tour of his career and try to leave his mark on the tougher stages.
Our African team’s philosophy is to try and shine on every kind of terrain to give our #BicycleChangeLives campaign, the Qhubeka charity and our sponsors as much recognition as possible. It is only logical that Australian Nathan Haas, who won stage 4 of the Vuelta a Burgos, will spearhead the team on the hilly stages that suit his profile. He’ll be joined by another all-rounder in his quest for glory, current South African road race champion Jaco Venter (pictured below).
Venter will share the role of being Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s road captain in Spain with Tyler Farrar. The experienced American, who has won stages in all three Grand Tours, will be the team’s conductor when it counts on the flat stages and he’ll try to pilot Kristian Sbaragli to another Vuelta a Espana stage win. The Italian’s lead-out will be rounded out by young South African Nic Dougall, who will ride his first Grand Tour.
This year’s Vuelta route will offer 7 flat stages, 7 hilly stages, 5 mountain stages and 2 challenges against the clock, of which one is the opening team time trial.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka – Vuelta a Espana
Omar Fraile [ESP – Link] Igor Anton [ESP – Link] Jacques Janse van Rensburg [RSA – Link] Merhawi Kudus [ERI – Link] Nathan Haas [AUS – Link] Jaco Venter [RSA – Link] Tyler Farrar [USA – Link] Kristian Sbaragli [ITA – Link] Nic Dougall [RSA – Link]
Douglas Ryder – Team Principal
The Vuelta a Espana is a really special race for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, it was the first Grand Tour we participated in back in 2014 just a short 2 years ago. So much has happened to the team, the global awareness of the team and the purpose we race for every day since then and it is largely thanks to the great organisation behind the event who gave us the chance. We are looking forward to the event this year with a special team focused on clear objectives and with a new rider to Grand Tours in Nic Dougall. Dreams continue to come true for this team, its riders and staff and the many people we race for every day and we look forward to the challenge of the 2016 event and the impact we can make.
Rolf Aldag – Head of Performance
We arrived at the The Tour de France with a strong tactical focus that was centered around possible stage wins and days in a leader’s jersey for only a few guys. As such the Grand Boucle was a similar race to the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Looking at the Vuelta a Espana we will take to the start with a strong squad to look for our chances at any given terrain. We’d like to win a stage and go for a leader’s jersey. The team did well in the built-up races to the Vuelta, we rode aggressively and successful. We’re not going to hide ourselves as this race is another chance for us to promote our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign on a big stage.
Jaco Venter – Rider
I’m looking forward to be riding my third Vuelta. This year’s edition runs mostly through the Northern part of Spain, so I guess it’s going to be cooler than in the last two years and the racing will be very fast. We have a strong team, we worked well together at the Vuelta a Burgos where we got a win. It’d be great to get the same at Vuelta. I will be supporting the team and will try go in some moves and try and stay away after getting really close last year. It’s my first time doing two Grand Tours in a season, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.