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Africa’s cyclists continue to make their mark in France
- Updated: July 12, 2015
MTN-Qhubeka’s Daniel Teklehaimanot retained the polka dot jersey for Africa’s first Tour de France team in Saturday’s eighth stage of the world’s most iconic cycle race.
Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) won the 8th stage, riding clear on the Mur de Bretagne with Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) 2nd and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) third.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s first objective of the day was to retain Teklehaimanot’s King of the Mountain jersey. With two points available at the stage finish, the African team were relying largely on Joquim Rodriguez (Katusha) not winning the stage, as he was the only real threat to Teklehaimanot’s jersey. With Vuillermoz taking the victory, Daniel will keep the Polka Dots for at least another day.
Said the Eritrean rider: ‘It is good to keep the jersey and to go into the team time trial with it still in our team. I can’t believe the support I am getting, it is just more and more everyday and I am very thankful. It still feels like I am in a dream.’
The stage saw a group of four riders escape from the ninth kilometre. There was an intermediate sprint with 74km to go, which brought the peloton to life. Directly after the sprint a surge by those participating in the sprint saw the early break caught. Three riders would then chance their arm and established a new breakaway, forcing out a lead of just over one minute. Cannondale-Garmin wanted to keep the break in check though and so set a hard tempo for the final 70km.
The three leaders had to surrender with 8km to go and we would have a showdown on the Mur de Bretagne. Edvald Boasson Hagen would be MTN-Qhubeka’s rider for the final climb and the Norwegian was in a great position with 1.5km to go as he sat on the wheel of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Unfortunately it would not be his day as the smaller punchers were more at home on the Mur. Vuillermoz accelerated away with 850m to go and this would be the definitive move of the stage.
Sunday’s action is the important Team Time Trial (TTT) which features a 28km dash from Vannes to Plumelec.