Tokyo-bound Nic Dlamini to make historic debut at the Tour de France

Blazing a new trail for cycling in his home country, Dlamini will become the first black South African to compete at the Tour de France after being announced as a member of Team Qhubeka ASSOS’ eight-rider roster for this year’s race.

The 25-year-old Dlamini’s debut at the Tour is the epitome of a rags-to-riches journey from growing up in abject poverty in one of Cape Town’s informal settlements to mixing it with some of the world’s best road cyclists. 

“Being selected to ride in my first ever Tour de France is an absolute dream come true for me,” Dlamini said on Friday. 

“It’s always been my childhood dream, and now that I am about to live it, it makes it feel very unreal. It speaks to what the team is about, the Ubuntu spirit (I am because we are), and how we change people’s lives because it is a historical moment for me, for South Africa.  To come from a small township and then to go to the Tour de France. 

“I hope this will serve as a reference of hope to many young South Africans that have been working hard to reach their dreams. Anything is possible.”

The news of his inclusion for the Tour de France follows shortly on the heels of the announcement that he would also represent South Africa in the men’s road cycling at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

To have finally made it to the Tour de France start list is a phenomenal feeling, and I am looking forward to grabbing the opportunity with both hands.

Dlamini’s resilience is further highlighted by his remarkable comeback from fracturing his arm at the end of 2019. He broke his arm after rangers in the Table Mountain National Park stopped him during a training ride. Dlamini sustained the injury in a scuffle with the rangers. 

The South African was first discovered for his running abilities but later joined the UCI’s World Cycling Centre Africa in Potchefstroom, South Africa. 

Team Qhubeka ASSOS, Africa’s UCI WorldTour team, will make its seventh appearance at the Tour de France, having first competed in 2015 (MTN-Qhubeka). Over that period, the team has won seven stages and worn the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys, respectively.

Dlamini rode as a stagiaire on their WorldTour team before he turned professional in 2018.

“There’s been a great progress, and having done two Grand Tours, two Vuelta a Espana (2019 and 2020) has sharpened me for any other Grand Tour, whether it is Giro d’Italia or the Tour de France,” he said.

“To have finally made it to the Tour de France start list is a phenomenal feeling, and I am looking forward to grabbing the opportunity with both hands.”

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