MTN-Qhubeka hold on to fifth as TDF winds down | SASCOC - SASCOC

MTN-Qhubeka hold on to fifth as TDF winds down


Team MTN-Qhubeka got over the murderous mountain stages in Saturday’s 20th and penultimate stage of the Tour de France to retain an impressive fifth spot in the team standings.
The stage was the final battle for the GC riders with Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) taking the spoils on Alpe d’Huez. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) would be the rider in second place while Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) completed the podium.
In a short stage of just 111 kilometres, the battle for the yellow jersey would well and truly be on as there would be two major climbs on the menu. While an initial break of four riders got away, it was inevitable that they would be caught as Nairo Quintana looked to mount a challenge for the yellow jersey.
The race came down to the infamous Alpe d’Huez, where the break was absorbed back into the yellow jersey group and the climbers of this year’s Le Tour came to the fore. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung still had Serge Pauwels in contention, with Steve Cummings also on hand to provide support as the team looked to defend Serge’s 13th position on GC.
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) would be one of the main aggressors as he got the jump on the favourites group early on, on Alpe d’Huez. Quintana though had good legs and set off in pursuit of the Frenchman while race leader, Chris Froome (Team Sky) could not respond to the Colombian’s accelerations but rode within himself to hold on to his leaders jersey by the end of the stage.
Pinot would be rewarded for his opportunistic attack with the stage win while Quintana won over more fans with his attacking riding style to finish second. Hesjedal, also won of the initial attackers on the final climb held on for third. With Steve Cummings guiding Pauwels home five minutes down, and Daniel Teklehaimanot just a few minutes back, MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung easily held on to fifth place in the overall team competition.
Said Pauwels: ‘Today was really tough because I could start to feel that I was becoming pretty empty. It was already a big war on the Croix de Fer and luckily I could come back on the descent because I was actually dropped on the Croix de Fer itself
‘I was back in the yellow jersey group before the Alpe d’Huez started and then I just rode Alpe d’Huez at my own rhythm. My challengers for 13th position only really came back to me with 4km to go and then I had to give everything to stay on the wheel but I succeeded and I am super happy with the result overall.’

Some more fascinating 20th stage data from Dimension Data.
160 riders started Stage 20, from Modane Valfréjus (2nd time stage town) to Alpe d’Huez (29th time stage town). For the first time ever, the iconic hors catégorie climb of Alpe d’Huez, was on the eve of the final stage on the Champs-Elysées.
140 – number of vehicles that form part of the “Zone Technique” with a total of 50 people who are responsible for the “behind-the-scenes” technical production & broadcast of Le Tour.
109.5 km – distance to the finish line on the Champs-Élysées, Paris.
21 – number of hairpin bends on the (13.8 km at 8.1%) ascent of Alpe d’Huez.
2067 m – altitude of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
23.24 km/h – average speed of the first rider to summit the Col de la Croix de Fer, Geniez (FDJ).
93.51 km/h – top recorded speed of Geniez’s (FDJ) descent from Col de la Croix de Fer
15.84 km/h – average recorded speed up Alpe d’Huez.
31.20 km/h – the average speed on the stage.
23’ 57” – the time gap between the first and last rider.
14 – number of days Chris Froome (SKY) has been in the yellow jersey.
8 – number of riders who were in contention for the Polka Dot Jersey at the start of the stage: Froome (SKY), Bardet (ALM), Rodriguez (KAT), Quintana (MOV), Fuglsang (AST), Pauwels (MTN), Rolland (EUC) & Nibali (AST). By the end of the stage, Froome (SKY) wins on 119 points.
1:12 – Froome’s (SKY) yellow jersey lead over Quintana (MOV).