22-year-old Gibbons (pictured above) hails from Johannesburg. Having ridden for the Dimension Data for Qhubeka Continental team, his early season performances earned him a stagiaire spot in our World Tour outfit for which he rode since August. It didn’t take him long to continue to impress. Besides riding in support roles for our team leaders, he also managed to handle the pressure of captaining the team at the Münsterland Giro where he finished as our best-placed rider. Gibbons, who has a solid punch, says:
"I am so fortunate and have been privileged to get this wonderful opportunity to join Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Coming up from its Continental outfit is going to make the step a lot easier as it’s a familiar environment and both teams use similar systems and there are many other parallels. I’m grateful to have been given a taste of what pro cycling is about as a stagiaire. This has opened my eyes and given me a hunger and huge motivation for the future. I hope to be a valuable member of the team and ultimately achieve much success.
Coming from South Africa and understanding firsthand what Qhubeka is about and how it impacts and influences lives is also very motivating. It gives me purpose and a constant drive, knowing that I’m not only chasing results with the team, but that I’m also part of a project which is changing lives.“
Perth based O’Connor (pictured above) joins from Avanti-IsoWhey and is another young talent that has attracted our interest. The 20-year-old Australian excels in the mountains. He has some strong finishes in U23 stage races to his name with a 3rd place overall at the Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc being one of his best results to date. O’Connor is looking forward to make the step-up:
“I’m truly humbled to have been given the opportunity to commence my professional career with Dimension Data for Qhubeka. The team has a close network of support that will help and guide me in the huge step to what is a top tier team in the world of cycling. The ability to race with and for some of the classiest bike riders currently around – riders like Edvald Boasson Hagen, Steve Cummings and Mark Cavendish to name a few – will be the perfect environment for my development as neo-professional.“
Like Gibbons, O’Connor is also keen on representing Qhubeka on an international stage:
"The bike has changed my life; I love riding, the places you see, the new relationships you develop and the people you inspire. The thought that through Qhubeka, by doing what I love best, I can help change the life of those less fortunate gives me a great sense of purpose to what I do.“
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka has a strong development focus supporting and nurturing young talented riders to grow into promising and successful athletes. Gibbons and O’Connor have shown the potential to step up into the World Tour. The team will continue to support and invest in the Team Dimension Data Continental team come 2017.
Team Principal Douglas Ryder adds:
"I always really enjoy the energy and big wide open eyes of young riders as they embark on a journey that is unknown to them. The passion and dedication is so contagious and affects a whole team so positively. When you surround them with a great culture, amazing people, mentorship and a high performance environment then magic happens. To see both Ryan and Ben show such determination and will power this year it is a pleasure to have them join Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as neo-pros. We have high hopes for both of them as they become the aspirational riders of our feeder team and the inspiration to so many in communities that Qhubeka shifts with bicycles.“