MILAN (VN) — MTN-Qhubeka, which will be known as Dimension Data in 2016, continues to build its team with Rolf Aldag joining the squad after its most successful season yet.
The South African Pro Continental team announced Monday morning it has hired the German as its performance manager. Aldag has worked for several teams, including Telekom/T-Mobile, HTC-Highroad, and, for the last three years, Etixx-Quick-Step.
With 54 wins, Etixx was the most successful team of 2015. Aldag, who worked as the squad’s sport and development manager, will take his winning methods with him to Dimension Data.
“He’s one of the most valued persons in cycling,” MTN team principal, Doug Ryder, told VeloNews. “He’s built several world champions. For race preparation, he knows how to select the best lead-up races and training.”
MTN raced in the Tour de France for the first time in July as one of the five wildcard teams. Its debut was made sweeter when Brit Steve Cummings won a stage on Nelson Mandela day in Mende.
Cycling’s first professional African team has grown quickly over the last three years in the Pro Continental ranks. It won Milano-Sanremo, debuted in the Vuelta a España, and, after receiving an invitation, won in the Tour.
Telecommunications company MTN announced after the Tour it would not renew its sponsorship contract, but Ryder made deals with Dimension Data and Deloitte. Besides confirming that 11 Africans would continue, he signed super sprinter Mark Cavendish and support men Bernhard Eisel and Mark Renshaw.
Aldag worked with Cavendish at T-Mobile and HTC-Highroad from 2007-2011, and with Etixx from 2013-2015. His employment further rounds out the team as it heads into a new “phase.”
“We want to be in the top-15 teams of cycling,” Ryder continued. “Aldag likes the underdog aspect of our team, the David versus Goliath. He said that we were already punching above our weight in 2015 and that it’s going to be hard to top it, but he wants to help us do so.”
The next phase could be winning a race in the WorldTour series with one of its 11 African cyclists or joining the first division.
Ryder told VeloNews Dimension Data could “potentially” now become a UCI WorldTeam with its new hires and current winners like Edvald Boasson Hagen and Cummings.
“There could be a possibility that the UCI comes to us in a month’s time and says, ‘You’re at a high enough ranking to be in the WorldTour,'” Ryder said last month.
The UCI told VeloNews it is due to announce its WorldTeams in December. This year, it had 17 teams racing in the top division. If those teams continue in the WorldTour, an 18th spot remains free. With Aldag, Ryder may have added to the team’s attractiveness in the eyes of the UCI license commission.
“Rolf is important for us especially if we become a WorldTour team,” added Ryder Monday. “If you want to climb the ranks in cycling, you need someone with his experience.”