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Rabie leads in Morocco
- Updated: March 26, 2011
Rising South African star, Johann Rabie confirmed his good form when he won the opening stage and took the overall race leader’s Yellow Jersey at the Tour of Morocco international road cycling stage race on Friday.
The Team Bonitas rider was part of a seven-man breakaway that formed after 46 of the 156-kilometre stage from El Jadida to Safi. He then outsprinted his breakaway companions to win the stage in a time of 3hr 46min 47sec. Fellow South African, Daryl Impey (MTN Qhubeka) finished second with Moroccan, Adil Jelloul (Moroccan National Team), completing the podium places.
In addition to Rabie, Impey and Jelloul, the breakaway group also included Moroccans Ahmed Oulkob and Hassan Zahboune (both Team EMA), South African Martin Wesemann (MTN Qhubeka) and Italian Gianluca Randazzo (Miche ÔÇô Guerciotti).
The break steadily opened a lead in windy, cool conditions and with 36km remaining had attained a sizeable gap of 9min 45sec. The teams that had missed the break only reacted late in the stage and managed to cut the gap down to five minutes by the finish.
ÔÇ£It was quite tight on the line between me and Impey after a tactical finish,ÔÇØ explained Rabie, who was part of Team SA at last year’s Commonwealth Games in India. ÔÇ£The other MTN guy, Wesseman, attacked in the final kilometre and nobody chased him so I brought him back and Impey counter-attacked. I managed to catch and pass him but it was very close.ÔÇØ
With stage race specialists like Impey and Rabie five minutes up, there’s likely to be some very aggressive racing over the remaining nine days.
ÔÇ£The pressure is on our team now to defend the jersey. But Impey is very close to the lead. I expect until we reach the mountains, Bonitas and MTN will just try and defend our positions in the General Classification. I’m sure the mountains will offer an opportunity for others to have a go but I will worry about that then. For now, it’s all about staying out of trouble and defending.ÔÇØ
Saturday’s second stage is a relatively flat 130km leg along the coast from Safi to Essaouira. The 10-stage race ends on 6 April in Casablanca.