Pedaling Unity: The Inspiring Journey of Q36.5 Continental Team
In the picturesque city of Lucca, Italy, nestled amidst the rolling hills of Tuscany, we find the home of Q36.5 Continental Team, our U23 development squad.
7 February 2024.
Established with the mission to create an inclusive environment that would bring together talented young riders from various backgrounds, including aspiring cyclists from Africa, the team is made up of 10 riders. Our vision was to bridge cultures, promote diversity, and nurture young talent from developing nations, giving them the resources and path to blossom into professional cyclists.
As the 2024 season looms ahead, we take a closer look at the ambitions and goals of our Continental team as they prepare to embark on their second season of racing in the U23 scene.
With its strong commitment to nurturing young talents, Q36.5 Continental Team scouted extensively across the globe to assemble a diverse group of ten riders from six different nationalities. Each rider showcases unique skills, adding a vibrant mix of abilities to the team.
Italians Raffaele Mosca, Manuel Oioli, and Alessio Portello earned their spot in the Q36.5 Conti Team for the second year in a row and will be looking to capitalize on their performances and learnings from the previous season. Joining the talented trio of Italians is 19-year-old countryman Mirko Bozzola.
Hailing from Switzerland, Daniel Schönenberger and Cyrill Gätzi have signed on with the team for 2024 while 18-year-old Tiago Santos becomes the first Portuguese to ride for the team.
On the back of a stellar year, Former South-African National Champion Travis Stedman will once again compete in the colors of Q36.5 Continental Team as one of the two African cyclists on the roster. Eritrean Nahom Zerai, who had some solid performances last season both with the Conti and Pro team, will continue his development out of Lucca, Italy.
Completing the 10-rider squad is Colombian talent Guillermo Juan Martinez. The squad’s unity and cohesion, transcending borders and cultures, will be the secret ingredient to our future success.
In the highly competitive South African RR Elite & U23 race, Q36.5 Continental Team’s Travis Stedman showcased his exceptional talent. In 2023, Stedman emerged as the winner and proudly wore the South African National Champion jersey during the season. This year he concluded the race in 5th position overall amongst the elite competition.
Italian Manuel Oioli was one of the standout Conti riders of the past season. He took four strong podium placings before sealing an impressive victory in his last race of the year: GP Ezio del Rosso. In the GP Misano 100, a race renowned for its challenging terrain,
Alessio Portello showcased his tenacity and skill by finishing in the runner-up position. He went on to notch six top-10 placings during the season.
Nahom Zerai, from Eritrea, took a strong podium in the Sulle Strade di Marco Pantani in April 2023 after having raced in support of the Pro Team in Tour of Rwanda, where Walter Calzoni finished second on the GC.
Challenges on the Road
The team faced numerous challenges during their early days. Language barriers, cultural differences, and adapting to a new training regimen were just a few of the obstacles they encountered. However, through determination and mutual support, the riders gradually learned to communicate effectively and bonded as a family. Their shared passion for cycling became the universal language that united them on and off the road.
This year, half of the Conti team joined their Pro counterparts in a rigorous pre-season training camp in Calpe, Spain, honing their skills and learning invaluable strategies to elevate their performance in the upcoming season.
The Q36.5 Conti Team will make their 2024 debut at the Italian double feature of one-day races Firenze-Empoli and Misano (February 24 and 25) before heading to Croatia for three key appointments: Umag Trophy, Poreč Trophy, and Istrian Spring Trophy.
A Journey of Growth
With each race in 2023, Q36.5 Continental Team continued to evolve and grow stronger. Their accomplishments attracted attention from sponsors, media outlets, and the international cycling community. Their unique story inspired young cyclists worldwide and shed light on the potential of a multicultural team to make a significant impact in the sport. The opportunity to race alongside the ProTeam in select races, both classics and stage-races will foster further progress for our U23 squad, starting this week in the Tour of Antalya (8-11 February) where Manuel Oioli will make his 2024 racing debut alongside six ProTeam riders. Nahom Zerai will kickstart his racing season at the Tour of Rwanda (18-25 February) as part of the Eritrean National Team.
Today, Q36.5 Continental Team continues to foster a supportive environment for young talents, representing the power of unity and diversity. Their story serves as a reminder that dreams can be achieved, barriers can be broken, and a shared passion for sport can transcend borders. The team’s tireless pursuit of excellence continues to inspire the next generation of cyclists, emphasizing that unity and inclusivity are the keys to a brighter future in the cycling world.
“I feel that our focus on developing young riders and providing opportunities to these riders, opportunities they otherwise might not have, has been successful in the past and is continuing to be successful. We are looking forward to continuing our work with a core group of our 2023 team members and are confident of achieving many good race results,” said Kevin Campbell, Q36.5 Continental Team Manager.