South African duo Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Jay Thomson will be the sole riders from the country in Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka's Tour de France team.
On Friday, Africa's Team confirmed that their sprint star Mark Cavendish will once again be their leader at the 105th Tour, and the Briton will be supported by riders from five other countries. Apart from South Africa's Janse van Rensburg and Thomson, the Belgian duo of Serge Pauwels and Julien Vermote have also been named in the eight-rider squad alongside Australian Mark Renshaw, The Netherlands' Tom-Jelte Slagter and Edvald Boasson Hagen from Norway.
Truly one of the proudest moments as a bike rider...Can't wait for the 7th of July... https://t.co/GCyEChEp55— Jay Robert Thomson (@JayRThomson) June 29, 2018
Janse van Rensburg's naming, for his fourth La Grande Boucle (The Great Loop), comes as reward after a trying start to the year for him.
The 29-year-old only returned to racing at the Tour of Norway in mid-May after a lengthy lay-off following groin surgery and a setback during his rehabilitation. As a result, 'Reinie' couldn't defend his national road race title in February (won by Daryl Impey who will ride for Mitchelton-Scott in the Tour) and heads to France with only four events in the saddle in 2018.
That said, he was among the best leadout riders in the peloton throughout last year, and particularly during the 2017 Tour, so should be eagerly looking to build on his reputation this time around.
"I am very excited to be selected as part of this strong team," he said in a team press release.
"I had serious doubts about whether I will be back in time from injury for this year for the Tour de France. It's been a difficult journey, but also gave me a chance to grow stronger as a cyclist and as a person, and now I feel ready to give it my all once more in the Tour."
Janse van Rensburg's primary responsibility will be as part of Cavendish's sprint train, oscillating with Renshaw as the Manxman's final leadout rider in the closing kilometres.
"I am confident that with this team we can achieve some stage wins, and I hope to play a key part in that. I will also be looking to be ready for any opportunities that come my way," he concluded.
While Janse van Rensburg will be at the coalface of the race during the closing kilometres of the sprint stages of Le Tour, his compatriot Jay Thomson will do so for most of the days at the head of Africa's Team -- breaking the squad's path through wind and whichever other elements there may be.
The pair also differ, in that the 30-year-old will makes his Tour de France debut to complete his Grand Tour trio - having ridden the La Vuelta a España in 2014 and 2015 and the Giro d'Italia in 2016. Understandably, Thomson was enthused by his Tour selection. It comes as reward for his hard yards across the one-day classics season and through numerous one-week tours which meant that he has ridden alongside all of his Tour teammates.
"Ever since I can remember I've spent hours and days in front of the TV watching heroes being made and guys fighting it out for glory on the roads of France. I'm honoured and proud that this year I'll be part of the 105th edition of the Tour de France," said Thomson.
"I'll be proudly riding with the South African bands on my arm as a previous champion of South Africa [from 2013], as we look for stage wins throughout this Tour, while representing Qhubeka in making lives better for people back in South Africa."