June 23, 2015

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) Two Eritrean cyclists will be the first from their country to compete at the Tour de France after being named in the MTN-Qhubeka team's final lineup on Tuesday.

The South Africa-based outfit, the first from Africa to gain a place at the Tour, selected 21-year-old climbers Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot in its nine-man group.

Five of the nine are from Africa, with the other three all South Africans: Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and national champion Louis Meintjes. All five Africans will be making their Tour debuts.

MTN-Qhubeka will also have American sprinter Tyler Farrar, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, Briton Steve Cummings, and Belgian Serge Pauwels.

MTN-Qhubeka was given a wild-card entry for the Tour, which begins in Utrecht, Netherlands, on July 4.

Farrar has won stages at all three grand tours - the Tour, Giro d'Italia, Spanish Vuelta - and will lead the team. Hagen has also won Tour stages.

Teklehaimanot won the overall mountains classification in this month's Criterium du Dauphine in France.

Team general manager Brian Smith called MTN-Qhubeka's climbing group, which includes the Eritreans, ''an unknown and exciting prospect.''

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