The 103rd edition of the Tour de France will welcome three South African riders to its line-up from July 2 to 24.
Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge), Louis Meintjes (Lampre Merida) and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Team Dimension Data) will be on the starting line when the race kicks off with a 188km stage from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.
Africa will be well represented with Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea) and Natnael Berhane (Eritrea) joining Janse van Rensburg, while Tsgabu Grmay (Ethiopia) will be riding with Meintjes.
The iconic but gruelling cycle tour saw Robbie Hunter as the first South African to compete in 2001 and to win a stage in 2007.
Ex-professional cyclist John-Lee Augustyn competed in 2008 for Barloworld and finished in sixth place in the Mountains Classification and seventh in the Young Riders’ Classification.
Impey more recently made international cycling headlines when he became the first South African to wear the coveted yellow jersey in 2013.
2015 was the first year that a South African registered UCI Pro Continental team, Team MTN-Qhubeka, was given a wildcard entry, with South Africans Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Meintjes and Janse van Rensburg taking part.
Not South African but flying the flag for the continent, Teklehaimanot (Eritrea) became the first African rider to don the Polka Dot climber’s jersey on stage six and only the third African ever to wear a leader’s jersey.
Stephen Cummings’ (Great Britain) solo victory on the 14th stage on Mandela Day last year will also long remain in our memories.
William Newman, Cycling SA president, congratulated the riders on their selection.
“The atmosphere at an event of this stature is one that cannot be described,” he said.
He added that it was a milestone for African Cycling to have such a diverse representation from the continent with the participation of South African, Eritrean and Ethiopian riders.
The tour is made up of 21 stages covering a total distance of 3519km. There will be nine flat stages, one hilly stage, nine mountain stages including four summit finishes, two individual time trial stages and two rest days.