Encouraging start to Tour De France for MTN-Qhubeka | SASCOC - SASCOC

Encouraging start to Tour De France for MTN-Qhubeka


Africa’s first team to do duty in the Tour de France, MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung got off to a positive start in Utretcht, Netherlands on Saturday.
Britain’s Steve Cummings took 10th spot for MTN-Qhubeka in the 13.8km individual time trial after team-mate Daniel Teklehaimanot had been afforded the honour of being the first rider rolling into action in this year’s Grande Boucle.
The crowds, which were bursting at the seams at around 800 000, made for an unbelievable atmosphere which really motivated the African team.
Each of the MTN-Qhubeka riders put in strong rides with Cummings storming home in an exceptional time of 15min 28sec over the 13.8km course. It was excellent confidence booster for the African team against 198 of the best riders in the world.
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), the former world hour record holder took the stage win and yellow jersey ahead of multiple world time trial champions, Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) respectively.
Cummings said afterwards: ‘It was a super day. Physically the effort was good but I also never really felt composed. I don’t know, I think it was possibly the occasion that got to me a bit and I messed up a lot of corners, well pretty much every corner actually.
‘But having said that, to come to the biggest bike race in the world it is great for the team to see we can all make mistakes but are able to compete with the best in the world. It was my goal to really deliver something good today for that reason, to give the team a bit of a lift and some confidence.
‘Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I hoped but I think it was still pretty good to be honest.
The team’s head of performance, Jens Zemke, said: ‘I think we can be really proud and really happy with the result we achieved. A top 10 in the opening stage is what we wanted, it was what we were trying to achieve and Steve did. The crowd was also amazing being at the Tour de France for the first time, so Steve finishing 10th is beautiful.’
Sunday’s second stage is mostly flat 166km ride from Utrecht to Zelende.