- Pace bounces back with strong finish in Thailand
- Blitzboks take it easy before Las Vegas Sevens
- Maripa bags first title of the year in Bolton
- England wrap up Summer Series with 2-0 win against SA
- Five more Meet records at SA Grand Prix
- Fichardt nails 15th Sunshine Tour win at Joburg Open
- SA duo struggle at Tokyo Marathon
- Le Clos leads the way at SA Grand Prix in Stellenbosch
- SA women lead but go down to England in Summer Series
- Rain delay shortens Joburg Open still further
MTN-Qhubeka rocket to second team in TDF standings
- Updated: July 21, 2015
MTN-Qhubeka’s Tour de France gets better and better as they won yet another Tour de France stage on Monday.
The stage was the final ‘transition’ stage, a 201-kilometre ride from Bourg-de-Péage to Gap and Africa’s first Tour de France side ended up with three riders in the first 20 finishers as the race featured a crazy descent into Gap.
Daniel Teklehaimanot took seventh, Serge Pauwels 13th and Edwald Boasson-Hagen 19th.
That saw them win the stage comfortably with a combined time of 13h 37min 31sec, 18:53 ahead of the next best team, Lampre-Merida.
It also means that MTN-Qhubeka have kept up the General Classification standings to sit second, 20:50 behind Movistar. and almost nine minutes ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo.
The stage would see another large breakaway group successfully going clear, this time consisting of 23 riders. MTN-Qhubek were in a great position by having Boasson Hagen, Pauwels and Teklehaimanot as part of the lead group. The peloton allowed the leaders to gain as much as 20 minutes advantage and so it was clear that the break would easily make it home.
The big lead group arrived at the foot of the final climb with 19km to go and this is where misfortune would strike the African team as Pauwels punctured. The timing couldn’t have been worse as the accelerations started immediately. Boasson Hagen would be put into difficulty on the gradients as the smaller riders kept the pressure on. Teklehaimanot showed fine form though by marking the lead riders on the climb.
When stage winner Ruben Plazaof Lampre Merida attacked there was no initial response and the Spaniard went all out to open an advantage. By the summit the lone leader had a minute on what was now only nine chasers, including Daniel. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) would put his descending skills on show as he clawed back 30 seconds on the 8km drop but it was not enough to win the stage.
An elated Teklehaimanot said after the stage: ‘It was a really good day for our team with three riders in the break. We were working really hard all day and unfortunately we lost Serge at the bottom of the climb.
‘Obviously it was also quite difficult for Eddy on the climb so it was up to me to follow the wheels on the final climb. For me I think seventh at the Tour de France is a good result.
Jens Zemke, head of performance said: ‘Our team is on a high and they all want to take their chances. When the 24-rider break split we had Serge in the front and Edvald and Daniel in the chase group. When it came back together there were 23 riders leading and we were in a luxurious position to have three riders in the front group.
‘In less than a minute the situation changed though when Serge got a flat and Plaza then attacked. Daniel followed in a small group and ended seventh. We moved up to 18th with Serge and we also won the stage team competition again. It was a pretty exciting day for us as we moved up in several classifications.’
Tuesday is the tour’s second rest day before they hit the Alps. It’s a 161km ride from Digne-les Bains to Pra-Loup.
It’s a hard, hard stage but if the truth be told it’s probably the easiest of the four days in the Alps. It will be a pivotal time for any late yellow jersey challenges to be mounted.
The finishing climb up to Pra Loup, despite its fearsome reputation, is only a second category, and the Allos, while high at 2250 metres, is first category, and averages 5.5 per cent, which is relatively shallow.
But there are a few stiff climbs early in the stage which will find out tired legs in double quick time. And then comes the descent of the Allos, a narro, technical and fast, trip with few hairpins to break up the ordeal. This will definitely not a be a stage for the faint-hearted.
More stage data from Tuesday as supplied by Dimension Data
2654.8 km – the distance covered from the start of this year’s Tour de France in Utrecht.
170 – the number of riders who started the stage. Only four complete teams remain in this year’s race: Team Lotto NL – Jumbo, Team Europcar, Team IAM Cycling and Team MTN Qhubeka.
53.6 km – the distance covered by the lead group in the first hour of the stage.
41.11 km/h – the average speed of Sagan (TCS) in the final kilometre leading up to the intermediate sprint in Die.
19.79 km/h – average speed of Pauwels (MTN) as he took maximum points for winning the climb up Col de Cabre.
61.61 km/h – fastest average speed recorded down Col de Cabre by Perichon (BSE).
23.8 km/h – average speed of Plaza Molina (LAM) as he won climb at Col de Manse
18.12 km/h – average speed up Col de Manse.
41.09 km/h – average speed on the stage.
30:36 – time between first and last rider.