Team Dimension Data Granted World Tour Licence
The World Tour for 2016 will again consist of a full compliment of 18 teams with the addition of Team Dimension Data to their ranks.
The team, formerly known as MTN-Qhubeka has gone from strength to strength the past couple of years and have gone from a small pro-continental outfit to being Africa’s first team to compete in the Tour de France.
The addition of riders such as Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw in the transfer window have helped them to continue their rise to the top of elite cycling, becoming the first African team to be granted a World Tour licence.
The World Tour was reduced last year to just 17 teams for this season after the merger of Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale and when Europcar were unable to meet the financial requirements for a World Tour team. Swiss outfit IAM Cycling was granted their first World Tour Licence which left a space free on many races.
This vacant position for a team at the top led to more wildcard teams being invited to big races, including MTN-Qhubeka at the Tour de France.
Team Dimension Data has evolved from humble beginnings as the MTN team in 2007 where they were plying their trade in the continental events in Africa and competing in the Nationals. After a few years of consistantly winning National titles – their riders won the South African Road Race Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2013 and the TT in 2008, 2011 and 2012 – they had a breakout season in 2013.
Gerald Ciolek’s victory in the monumental Milan-San Remo propelled the team into the spotlight of many fans who hadn’t heard of this team before this moment and it paved the way for a successful season which saw Ciolek win stage stages of the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Austria amongst others.
After a successful 2014 competing in many races on the World Tour circuit, although not actually winning much, they made some key signings that would allow them to continue their success such as Edvald Boasson Hagen from Team Sky.
In 2015 Boasson Hagen won the team’s first European stage race by taking victory in the Tour of Britain whilst Steve Cummings won their first Tour de France stage when he made a late break on Stage 14 and Kristian Sbaragli sprinted to victory on Stage 10 of La Vuelta.
The team needed to meet financial goals in terms of sponsorship and size in order to be granted World Tour Status, as well as having a roster of at least 26 riders available to them. World Tour status is much more demanding on a team as they are automatically entered into the three Grand Tours and top tier races which also means there are logistical targets that the teams need to meet.