Two Eritrean riders to compete in Tour de France

Tue Jun 23, 2015 2:59pm EDT
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(Reuters) - MTN-Qhubeka, the first African-based team to ride in the Tour de France, named its nine-rider line-up on Tuesday with three South Africans and two Eritreans making the cut.

The team, which promotes the BicylesChangeLives campaign that it hopes will mobilize young Africans, will feature Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot who will become the first riders from Eritrea to ride in the world-famous race.

They will be supporting seasoned professionals like Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen, Britain's Steve Cummings and American Tyler Farrar, who has won stages on all three Grand Tours.

"It was always going to be difficult to choose nine riders from 23," the team's general manager Brian Smith said.

"It was even more difficult as history will be made in July when the first South African-based team takes the start in Utrecht. Tyler Farrar will be our captain on the road and work with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg towards the flatter stages.

"We hope to raise awareness and garner support for our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign by targeting performance goals that include a stage win and wearing a competition jersey."

At 21, Kudus will be the youngest rider in the race while Teklehaimanot will start fresh off winning the team's first-ever World Tour jersey at the recent Criterium du Dauphine.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Toby Davis)