Cape Town - Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will head to the final grand tour of the season, La Vuelta a Espana, with a strong team spearheaded by South African climber, Louis Meintjes.
The 2018 La Vuelta a Espana gets underway on Saturday, August 25 with an 8km prologue in Malaga. Riders will then have to complete a total distance of 3 254km over 21 stages before reaching the finish in Madrid, on September 16.
Team Dimension Data will rally around Meintjes as he targets a top general classification result.
Meintjes said, “I am looking forward to this year's Vuelta a Espana with Team Dimension Data. It's been a challenging year for the team and for me personally too, but we have worked hard to prepare well and build up nicely ahead of La Vuelta.
“At Vuelta a Burgos I think we definitely showed that we were on the right track as the entire team was riding really well. With the same team as in Burgos, now heading to La Vuelta, we have some positive momentum going into the race. Certainly, three weeks of racing is a different kind of beast but the goal for me is to be consistent throughout, take advantage when I am feeling good and try to achieve the best GC result possible.”
The tough final week of La Vuelta will certainly suit Meintjes, as his tendency to get stronger as a three-week tour progresses will be further buoyed by the fact that the queen stage, stage 20, takes place in his home European base of Andorra.
Alex Sans Vega, sport director for the team, added, “We have three very difficult weeks ahead of us but this is exactly what we have prepared for. We know La Vuelta always produces some of the most difficult grand tour stages, but that also makes it one of the most exciting races of the year.
“The team is really motivated to be part of the action and there is the feeling that we definitely have unfinished business with the 2018 season. Louis has been getting better and better, he is a world class rider and grand tours are what he specializes at. We will back him 100 percent at La Vuelta and we have a strong team to do so.”
Igor Anton and Merhawi Kudus will be alongside Meintjes in the high mountains, but, as the trio proved at the recent Vuelta a Burgos, they are all able to challenge for stage victories on the most difficult of days too.
South African sprinter, Ryan Gibbons, will start his second grand tour of the season, and will have free reign on the sprint stages of this year’s La Vuelta. While the sprinters stage options are limited, Gibbons’ inclusion ensures the African team will be in regular contention for top stage results throughout the race.
Steve Cummings, Ben King, and Johann van Zyl will form the backbone of a strong climbing line-up. With 46 summits spread across the 21 stages, the trio will be tasked with laying down the foundation to the team’s overall race ambitions.
Completing the line-up will be Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier. The young Eritrean has been impressive in his first season as a neo pro and starts his debut grand tour primarily to gain valuable experience, while supporting the protected riders.
Dimension Data for Qhubeka line-up:
Louis Meintjes (RSA)
Igor Anton (ESP)
Merhawi Kudus (ERI)
Ryan Gibbons (RSA)
Steve Cummings (GBR)
Ben King (USA)
Johann van Zyl (RSA)
Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (ERI)