The team was released via a special video announcement featuring Qhubeka beneficiaries in conjunction with media partner Supersport, at the headquarters of Dimension Data in Johannesburg on Friday.
Mark Cavendish, who has won 30 stages of the event and 48 stages across the Grand Tours, makes his 12th start and will be hoping to add to that tally having tasted success for Team Dimension Data in 2016 winning four times.
“I’m so excited to be able to ride the Tour de France again in my career, for the third time in Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka."
The 33-year-old comes into the race after most recently featuring at the Adriatica Ionica Race and will be in Northumberland on Sunday competing at the British Nationals before heading to France.
“The Tour de France is not only the biggest cycling event on the planet but it’s one of the biggest sporting events on the planet; and it’s the best platform to get across what we as Team Dimension Data do for our charity Qhubeka, to get people in rural parts of Africa on bicycles. I’m excited to be part of a strong team and I’ll be looking at getting closer to that record (34)of Eddie Merckx.”
Alongside Cavendish will be long time teammate Australian Mark Renshaw who will be riding the race for the 10th time. Renshaw’s experience, along with Belgium’s Julien Vermote, who has ridden the last three editions of the race, will be crucial in the first week in particular that sees a number of opportunities to contest sprint finishes.
Edvald Boasson Hagen who was the team’s standout performer in 2017, securing a handful of podium finishes including victory on stage 19, starts his eighth Tour de France. The current Norwegian time trial champion adds significant depth to the team’s experience once again.
“I’m really excited to be named in the team for the Tour de France this year. I look forward to the start and am feeling fully prepared for the event ahead,” he said. South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg returns to the race for a fourth time. This comes after a lengthy injury lay-off having only made his return to racing in mid-May. In 2017 ‘Reinie’ was hailed among the best leadout proponents in the peloton and will be looking to build on that reputation in 2018.
“I am very excited to be selected as part of this strong team. I had serious doubts about whether I will be back in time from injury for this year for the Tour de France. It’s been a difficult journey, but also gave me a chance to grow stronger as a cyclist and as a person, and now I feel ready to give it my all once more in the Tour,” he said.
“I am confident that with this team we can achieve some stage wins, and I hope to play a key part in that. I will also be looking to be ready for any opportunities that come my way.”
Serge Pauwels rides his 4th consecutive Tour de France having finished in the top 20 twice in the last three years. The 34-year-old Belgian’s been in strong form this year having finished 3rd at the Tour de Yorkshire. While Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter will ride the Tour for the 1st time for their team having produced strong performances at the Tour de Suisse, La Fleche Wallonne and early in the season at the Tour Down Under.
Completing our line-up is South Africa’s Jay Thomson. The 30-year-old makes his Tour de France debut and his selection comes off the back of a very strong 2018.
An emotional Thomson said of his selection: “Ever since I can remember I’ve spent hours and days in front of the TV watching heroes being made and guys fighting it out for glory on the roads of France. I’m honoured and proud that this year I’ll be part of the 105th edition of the Tour de France.”
“I’ll be proudly riding with the South African bands on my arm as a previous champion of South Africa, as we look for stage wins throughout this tour, while representing Qhubeka in making lives better for people back in South Africa.”
- Mark Cavendish
- Edvald Boasson Hagen
- Mark Renshaw
- Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
- Serge Pauwels
- Julien Vermote
- Tom-Jelte Slagter
- Jay Thomson
Douglas Ryder – Team Principal:
“Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is really looking forward to starting our 4th Tour de France with an incredible team that will chase stage wins and try to realise a dream. This year’s tour reminds me of our 1st tour in 2015 with tough stages that will require strong teams to succeed and our 2018 team is totally focused on achieving the maximum we can. With 8 rider teams this year it is imperative to get the right combinations together to achieve the big bold goals we have. After all, we do race ForQhubeka and our success will change more lives with bicycles.”
Rolf Aldag – Head of Performance:
“We picked eight riders with the clear goal to be very present right from the start, with cross-wind stages for the selected 8, and a Paris-Roubaix stage for the likes of Edvald (Boasson Hagen) who is a Classics expert. We also have the Mur de Bretagne where Tom-Jelte Slagter can hopefully shine for us and Edvald’s showed in the past that he’s capable of getting up there."
"And then of course we want to compare this to the 2016 Tour where we came in as one unit with the day-to-day approach that we’ll try to win stages. We also clearly want to be present later on in the race with Serge Pauwels too so we’ll approach the event from the point of view; that there is no tomorrow. It’s all about today, being one united team."
"We know what our responsibilities are to support Qhubeka and the best way to do that is of course by trying to win, by trying to be a big factor during the Tour de France, one of the biggest sports events in the world.”