The team has been known as MTN-Qhubeka for several seasons, with the charity that provides bicycles to underprivileged African children receiving very prominent billing in the title.
However, from 2016 onwards Qhubeka will disappear from the name of the squad. Team principal Douglas Ryder explained why this is the case, and why he feels it could be advantageous to the charity.
“The team will be called Team Dimension Data. Qhubeka is not going to be in the title and neither is Deloitte,” he explained to CyclingTips.
“I have seen quite a lot of comments about it on social media. People love the team because Qhubeka was in the title and this team isn’t like any other team. But we did some research with Qhubeka and the feeling was that with its name in the title, lots of people who are not close to the team think that the charity is so wealthy that it is a sponsor of the team.”
Ryder said that because of this perception, those people have instead given money to other charities. He feels they need to be clear about the situation.
“This is Qhubeka, which doesn’t fund a team. It is a complete and utter charity that we raise funds for.”
Asked if the team was scaling back its partnership with the charity, he insisted that this was not the case.
“The team will still continue to race for Qhubeka. If you see all of the releases that we put out, it is fundamentally part of our DNA and close to our heart.
“In fact, that is one of the reasons why all of these riders are part of this team: it is racing for the greater good, the greater cause and it has a purpose. But it is not going to be in the name for the pure fact that people had the wrong impression. And that was negatively affecting the charity, to be frank.”
Ready for WorldTour
Ryder confirmed that the team’s budget would be bigger from next season. This has made it possible for the team to step up to WorldTour if the UCI requests it to do so.
Cycling’s governing body requires 18 teams in that top echelon, but only 17 had applied for a WorldTour by the time the UCI released information on the 2016 applications earlier this month.
As was the case last autumn with IAM Cycling, the UCI will likely ask the top team from the Pro Continental level – which is MTN-Qhubeka – to step up.
Ryder’s team had originally applied for a Pro Continental licence for 2016 due to the deadline for applications, as well as its budget at that point and because of the riders it had on board.
Since then the budget has increased thanks to the new sponsors. The team’s riders also have more points because Mark Cavendish and others have been signed.
Financially and sportingly it is stronger than it was in 2015, and Ryder is convinced that it is of the necessary calibre to compete at the top level.
As regards that budget, the new sponsorship by the company Deloitte is something that has bolstered the team’s financial status. However Ryder confirmed it would not be part of the team’s title.
“It will be on the jersey. Deloitte are in it because they love the project, the love the team, they want the visibility, they want to access the riders, they want to do networking business to business and stuff like that,” he said.
“They want to be part of something that is fairly unique and extraordinary. They are a significant partner and we will keep them as such, but they are not going to be in the name.”
Ditto for Qhubeka but, if Ryder is correct, this should lead to an increase in the money it raises through its association with the team.