Dimension Data, formerly MTN-Qhubeka, have been granted WorldTour status ©Getty Images

Dimension Data are among six further teams to be awarded International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour licences by the governing body’s Licence Commission, taking the total number to 18 for the 2016 season.

Formerly known as MTN-Qhubeka, Dimension Data have become the first African registered team in history to receive the top-tier racing status, having ridden throughout the 2015 season as a Professional Continental Team, the second tier.

The team made an impressive Tour de France debut as a wildcard with Britain’s Steve Cummings achieving their target of winning stage 14, which fell on Nelson Mandela’s birthday, a national holiday in South Africa.

Mark Cavendish, a 26-time Tour de France stage winner, has been one of several signings as the team has attempted to receive WorldTour status, with the Briton being joined by former team-mates - Australia’s Mark Renshaw and Austria’s Bernhard Eisel.

As a result of their top tier status the team will no longer be dependent on receiving wildcards to participate in the sport’s biggest races including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

“This is incredible, I am so happy for this team, our partners and all the staff and riders that have worked so hard over the years to keep building this team to push beyond the boundaries and believe that anything is possible,” said Douglas Ryder, Dimension Data team principal.

“To get this news at our training camp in Cape Town, as we are bonding with our new team for the future, is simply the best motivation to move forward into 2016.”

The decision follows a review of administrative, ethical, financial and sporting criteria by the UCI’s Licence Commission, in accordance with the UCI’s regulations.

Mark Cavendish's former team Etixx - Quick Step have also received a WorldTour licence
Mark Cavendish's former team Etixx - Quick Step have also received a WorldTour licence ©Getty Images

Following the review, Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, Etixx - Quick Step, Team Katusha, Lampre-Merida, Lotto Soudal and Tinkoff have all had their WorldTour licences renewed for the forthcoming season.

AG2R La Mondiale, BMC Racing Team, FDJ, IAM Cycling, Movistar Team, Orica-GreenEdge, Team Giant-Alpecin, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo, Team Sky and Trek Factory Racing had all been successful in renewing their WorldTour licences earlier this month.

Additionally the Astana Pro Team, who had been subject to "strict monitoring" throughout 2015, were also granted a WorldTour licence after proceedings to see their status revoked after several doping cases involving their riders were declared "devoid of purpose and are closed".

The 2016 season is intended to be the final year in which one-year licences are awarded to teams with the UCI passing major reforms which would extend the licences to three-years.

However, this week the International Association of Cycling Race Organizers (AIOCC) rejected the proposals, with 77 voting against the UCI’s reforms of men’s professional cycling at a meeting in Hamburg.

As well as the WorldTour teams, both Roth-Skoda and Cult Energy - Stölting Group have been granted UCI Professional Continental status, taking the current total of tier two teams to 19 with a further four still having their applications considered.

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