When NTT Pro Cycling takes to the start line of the 2020 Tour de France in Nice it will proudly mark an inspiring 10-year milestone for team principal Douglas Ryder and our association with the Qhubeka Charity.
This partnership has seen the team play a major role in the efforts to assist young people and healthcare workers in rural communities across South Africa, with increased mobility seen as a key fundamental to improving lives.
The team has funded over 30 000 bicycles during the period of its association, something that it’s incredibly proud of and which provides both our riders and staff the added inspiring element of purpose, while working in one of the world’s toughest sporting environments.
On the eve of the 2020 edition of the race in Nice, Ryder held his now traditional pre-race team meeting, reflecting on the team’s journey, while also paying tribute to the eight riders on the startline in Nice and to present them with their one-of-a-kind race caps bearing their unique NTT Pro Cycling numbers.
Speaking afterwards, Ryder reflected: “Qhubeka means so much to us as a team. It means so much to the people that we empower through bicycles and the impact that makes. Our whole Bicycles Change Lives campaign talks to the fact that lives have been changed by every individual in our team that’s here at the Tour de France.
“Them being able to use that as a motivation to be able to do well and raise funds for kids in communities to have the same kind of mobility and freedom is pretty special. It’s a real privilege that we’ve been able to work with Qhubeka for the last 10 years and we look forward to continuing into the future, as we make an impact together.
“When my kids go into the communities and see the happiness for something as simple as a bicycle that when a child has the opportunity to be free, to be independent – it’s a privilege; and makes them as kids realise just how privileged they are. Our riders feel it, and people when they travel into the communities feel it.
“It’s thankless trying to raise money and work through any charity but Anthony Fitzhenry is the most incredible human being,” said Ryder of Qhubeka’s founder. “He is someone who was so successful in business and then wanted to do such good through computerising schools in the beginning so kids could have access to information and to learn; but then realising that the biggest inhibitor to that was actually getting to school. For him to then try and create the best bicycle, built for Africa, so that it can last last from Grade 1 all the way through their school is career is something that he’s passionately worked his life on, and continues to do so, with all the ups and downs it takes to run a charity. We’re very thankful that he exists and drives it so passionately.
“If you think that we wanted as a team to give Africans a voice, to open the door and give them the opportunity at the highest level of cycling and at the same time raise awareness to the mobility challenge in South Africa – our rides have the unique opportunity to impact that. If a child that receives one of those bicycles thanks to the success of the team wants to ride a bicycle because they love the freedom and they that they can potentially become a sportsman out of it and race their bicycles and then ends up at the highest level at a team like ours, racing the Tour de France, then that would be the cradle to the Holy Grail story.
“It would be the most beautiful thing to see someone that starts on a Qhubeka bike end up at the Tour de France, the highest level of cycling.”