By Michael Pavitt

MTN-Qhubeka boast riders from Algeria Eritrea Rwanda and South Africa ©Getty ImagesMTN-Qhubeka will become the first African team to compete in the Tour de France, after being one of five teams awarded a wildcard for the 2015 Tour.

The South African based team will be joined in the 102nd edition of the race by fellow wildcards Bretagne-Séché Environnment, Europcar and Cofidis from France, as well as the German-based Bora-Argon 18 and 17 World Tour teams, who will make up the 22 team roster.

Qhubeka raced in their first Grand Tour during the 2014 season having been given a wildcard to compete in the Vuelta a España.

The team boast riders from the African nations of Algeria, Eritrea, Rwanda and South Africa, including South African national champion Louis Meintjes and the waiting will now begin to see which nine riders will be selected by Qhubeka for the three week race, with the Grand Depart taking place in Utrecht, The Netherlands on July 4.

Douglas Ryder, team principal of MTN-Qhubeka, stated that upon hearing the news he "simply could not contain myself".

"I have been waiting my whole life for this news," he said.

"The pressure over the years of getting partners and riders to believe in this dream is finally a reality.

"We will not only ride in the Tour, we will compete and we will have the support of the whole continent behind us."

MTN-Qhubeka will be able to select Grand Tour stage winners like Edvald Boasson Hagen ©Getty ImagesMTN-Qhubeka will be able to select Grand Tour stage winners like Edvald Boasson Hagen ©Getty Images

With Grand Tour stage winners in the form of the all-rounder Edvald Boasson Hagen and sprinters Matt Goss and Tyler Farrar, Qhubeka could prove to be a threat in sprint stages of the Tour.

The Tour could also prove a special occasion for the South African based team as prior to the announcement their general manager Brian Smith told Cycling Tips that the Nelson Mandela Foundation were keen for Qhubeka to mark Nelson Mandela Day, which falls on July 18, his birthday and the 14th stage of this year's Tour.

"I feel extremely proud to be part of a bit of African cycling history," Smith said, following the announcement.

"It's been a lot of hard work from many people and today has been very emotional when it was confirmed that we would ride the Tour de France."

Qhubeka were also confirmed as one of twenty teams that will take part in the Critérium du Dauphine, a key event in many of the teams Tour de France preparation.

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