Mark Cavendish’s Dimension Data team granted UCI WorldTour licence for 2016 season

Manx Missile's new team to get automatic entries to all top races as Dimension Data becomes first African WorldTour squad

Mark Cavendish’s new team, Dimension Data, has been granted a UCI WorldTour licence for the 2016 season, marking the first time an African-registered squad has competed in cycling’s top flight.

Dimension Data, previously known as MTN-Qhubeka, competed as a UCI ProContinental team in 2015 but has been promoted to the top tier ahead of the new campaign, meaning the squad will no longer have to rely on wildcard invited to cycling’s biggest races.

Mark Cavendish and his trusted leadout man, Mark Renshaw, will ride for Team Dimension Data next season (Pic: The Tour)

While MTN-Qhubeka received wildcard invites to two of cycling’s three Grand Tours in 2015 – the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana – the re-shaped squad, with new signings including Cavendish, Mark Renshaw, Bernhard Eisel and Kanstantsin Siutsou, will now be assured of a place on the start line of every major race.

“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 team principal Doug Ryder as the squad assembled for a pre-season training camp in South Africa.

“To get this news on 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.”

Dimension Data has also registered a third-tier UCI Continental development team based in Lucca, Italy, in order to nurture young African riders as they begin careers in Europe.

MTN-Qhubeka enjoyed a dream Tour debut in 2015, spending time in the King of the Mountains jersey and winning a stage with Steve Cummings (Pic: Sirotti)

The news of Data Dimension’s WorldTour licence came as the UCI confirmed the 18 top-level teams for 2016, with Cannondale Pro Cycling, Etixx-QuickStep, Katusha, Lampre-Merida and Tinkoff-Saxo among those teams having licences renewed.

One Pro Cycling, founded by former England cricketer Matt Prior, has also had its ProContinental licence confirmed, making it the only British team to compete in the second tier.

UCI WorldTour teams for 2016

Ag2r La Mondiale
BMC Racing
Cannondale Pro Cycling
Dimension Data
IAM Cycling
Team Sky
Trek Factory Racing

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