Team Qhubeka ASSOS, Africa’s only UCI-registered WorldTour team, will have the European and Italian Giacomo Nizzolo leading our charge at our opening race of the season – Etoile de Bessèges.
The selection for the race sees a raft of new faces, spearheaded by Nizzolo, who recently his 32nd birthday. Among his support will be long-term friend Matteo Pelucchi, who makes his first start for Team Qhubeka ASSOS.
Lukasz Wisniowski has impressed during the team’s recent training camp in Spain and his experience will be invaluable alongside the likes of Andreas Stokbro and Sean Bennett, the American also making his debut for the team.
The impressive Michael Gogl will likely take on the shared role of road captain where he will be leaning heavily on new recruit Simon Clarke for support. The Australian has merged seamlessly into Team Qhubeka ASSOS and promises to be a major asset for the team this season.
Meanwhile, we have sought the assistance of our ardent fans to formally announce our team for this race and will look to continue doing that throughout the season. This is something new and we are very excited about it.
Our team’s supporters, particularly in light of our recent challenges and in line with our drive for success into the future, are key for us to continue to create meaningful change with the Qhubeka Charity in changing lives with bicycles.
The five-day race gets underway on Wednesday, 3 February with a 141km stage starting and finishing in Bellegarde, and concludes with an 11km individual time trial in Alès.
As always for the first race of the season I’m very excited and it will be interesting what is our current level. We had a good camp but I don’t feel at my absolute optimum as I have had an issue with my knee. I feel that it’s been getting better and better every day at the camp, even when I wasn’t able to train exactly how I’d wanted to.
So I think we go there without pressure but obviously if there is an opportunity to score a result we will try every day where there is a chance. I think that we also have some good guys for the overall too in Michael Gogl and Simon Clarke and it will be interesting to see how we can go in the sprint with the new guys. Obviously with Pelucchi there is a long history but we have to, as a team, find our place in the bunch.
After a really good block of training over the off-season, including my own mini training camp with Michael Gogl, it was good to finally meet everyone at our camp in Spain.
It was a really good camp and now I can’t wait to get started with my new team here in France. We’ll be looking to take what we worked on there straight into our racing, so I’m looking forward to the season ahead with confidence.
Gino Van Oudenhove – Sports Director
It has been a hectic run in the last two months for riders, staff and management to put things together. To get to this point everyone has done an amazing job and now we can start our first race well prepared and with confidence.
Etoile de Bessèges will be an exciting race with some sprint possibilities. So, from the first race, we can put all hands on deck in support of Giacomo.