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Mixed fortunes for MTN-Qhubeka around the globe
- Updated: February 1, 2015
The third Mallorca Challenge race in Spain was one for the climbers as the route included no less than seven categorised climbs.
After coming second behind MTN-Qhubeka’s Steve Cummings during yesterday’s race, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) managed to go one better to claim the victory on Saturday.
He crossed the line solo with Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) coming second and Leopold Konig (Team Sky) in third place.
A fast start saw a number of attacks and counter attacks before a large group of 28 riders went clear. In that initial lead group, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had both Merhawi Kudus and Johann van Zyl present. Alejandro Valverde was also in the move and so the threat he posed led Team Sky to reel the group back in around the 80-kilometre mark.
By the time this general regrouping took place, a number of riders had already been dropped from the peloton. A flurry of attacks then ensued with Merhawi and Valverde eventually going clear once again. The duo built up a lead of 2 mins over the peloton before Valverde attacked in a descent with just 30km to go. After a brave and courageous fight, Merhawi would be caught by the chase group with 18km left to race.
Valverde pushed on solo to eventually take the win as the select group of chasers battled it out for the minor places. Merhawi would cross the line in 10th place and also won the most combative rider prize of the day, this after Johann won the most aggressive prize yesterday, making it another good day out for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
Said Kudus: ‘I felt really good today. On the climbs I was also very comfortable and relaxed the whole day. It’s unfortunate because I just couldn’t follow Valverde on the descent. In the end I had to settle for 10th but I am happy with today’s performance and also to with the most combative prize as well.’
Meanwhile several crashes overshadowed an active ride of team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung at the inaugural Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Australia. The weather conditions were everything but expected for racing Down Under.
Strong winds and rain caused for several crashes. After an early group of three was able to establish a lead over the peloton, when the first crashes occurred. Unfortunately MTN-Qhubek’as Songezo Jim hit the deck after 80km of racing – and just a couple of kilometres later Serge Pauwels and Matt Brammeier were forced to get on their bikes again.
The gap between the split peloton and the lead came down with around 100 kilometers of racing left. In the cross winds another group was able to get away, with Tyler Farrar and Matt Brammeier representing the team’s stripes up front.
The tough final in Geelong then made for another few break attempts. Nevertheless, the race was decided in a bunch sprint with Gianni Meersman (Etixx-Quick Step) taking the win from Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge) and Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin). After 175km of racing Tyler Farrar was the best MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung finisher.
MTN-Qhubeka’s sports director Michel Cornelisse said afterwards: ‘The race didn’t turn out to go as we had planned it. We were involved in several crashes and therefore couldn’t put on our stamp on the race in the final.
‘No one got injured and the morale is still high, so we are looking forward to perform well at the upcoming Herald Sun Tour.