Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will kick off their 2018 season at the Santos Tour Down Under, and have named three 'newbies' in their line-up.
Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter (signed from Cannondale-Drapac) will make hos debut in his new team's colours and lead the seven-man team alongside the experienced Australian Mark Renshaw. Slagter's fellow debutants will be South African Nicholas Dlamini and Briton Scott Davies.
The Tour Down Under, Now in its 20th year, gets underway on Tuesday, 16 January with the first of six stages ending Sunday, 21 January.
Apart from it being his first official ride for Africa's Team, Slager is a former winner of the Tour Down Under, in 2013, so will have extra motivation to lead well over the coming week of racing.
"The Tour Down Under is great way to start the season with my new team. So far I am really happy with the team since we met in South Africa last year, everything has been great here as well with everyone working well together. Training has been going well too and it's really nice to start the season here, in good weather," Slager said in a Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka press release.
"We have a motivated team, with some Australians [Renshaw, Lachlan Morton and Ben O'Connor] who are normally in good shape for their home race. We are here to race for the victory or at least the best possible result we can achieve. I have good memories from 2013 and I was here last year as well, so I think with this team we can do a really good and I am ready for it too."
Joining Slagter on the TDU roster is a good mix of experience with Renshaw, Morton and Jaco Venter as well as youth in Ben O'Connor, Davies and Dlamini (the final two who will be starting their professional careers).
In terms of race objectives, Slagter will target the overall classification and the Queen stage of the race (Stage 5 to Willunga Hill) which suits his puncheur riding style. Climbers Morton and O'Connor will also be good options for the tougher stages while Renshaw remains a podium threat for the sprint stages.