TDF's African team take a breather ahead of the mountains | SASCOC - SASCOC

TDF’s African team take a breather ahead of the mountains


MTN-Qhubeka took 20th spot in the team time trial on stage nine of the Tour de France on Sunday… and will welcome Monday’s rest day as they prepare for the mountains with King of the Mountains jersey wearer Daniel Teklehaimanot in their ranks.
The 28km team trial saw MBC Racing beating Team Sky and Movistar into second and third on Sunday.
The African team had hoped for a strong ride today but were also realistic in coming up against team’s more experienced and well-rehearsed in the team time trialling discipline. Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen, pictured above, put in the lion’s share of work over the final sectors of a tough course to bring the young African climbers across the line in 34min 11sec.
The team’s average speed of 49.1km/h saw them finish within 1:56 of the reigning team time trial world champions by the end of the stage. With no King of the Mountains points on offer during the team time trial, Teklehaimanot kept his Polka Dot jersey.
Said Jens Zemke, the team’s Head of Performance: ‘We finished our team time trial and we didn’t do a superb time but not too far away from the best. We did expect a bit more but we must also realise it was the first day this team rode together so it was not our main objective to go fast in the team time triall.
‘We had a very good first week here in the Tour de France and we are also heading into the mountains now. This is the terrain for our African talents so we can live with our result today, we did our best and we now look forward to the next tough stages.
MTN-Qhubeka dropped one slot to 15th out of 22 in the overall team standings, 25:14 behind BMC Racing who lead Tinkoff-Saxo 4:04 behind in second spot.
Tuesday’s stage from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, a ride of 167 kilometres. The first 150 of those are pretty much flat and rolling but the mountaineers will come into their own over the last 15km.
The Col de la Pierre St Martin is a very hard climb. The average gradient is listed as 7.4% for the 15 kilometres but the Pierre St Martin is fairly shallow for the last third of the climb and experts reckon a  good climber in good form could do some real damage here.

Some more interesting stage data from Sunday’s team time trial, as supplied by Dimension Data
6.2% – the average gradient of Côte de Cadoudal, the final 1.7 km climb to the finish line of the stage.
185 – the number of riders who started the stage.
5th – the position of the rider whose time determined the team score in the team-trial.
2016.2 km – distance the cyclists still have to race to the finish on the Champs-Élysées.
6 – the number of ORICA GreenEDGE (OGE) riders in the team time-trial, making them the smallest team on the day.
78.37 km/h – top speed on the stage by Nicolas Roche (SKY) at km 16.5.
4:33 – the time gap between the first and last team.