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- Mabulu grabs bronze, kata team wins three medals in Madagascar
- Cremona pulls out all the stops with best throw on SA soil
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More accolades for Africa’s team with third spot in TDF’s 10th stage
- Updated: July 13, 2016
African outfit Dimension Data were in the thick of things again as the 103rd Tour de France rolled back into action on Tuesday.
If the 10th stage had been an athletics or swimming event, sprinter Edvald Boasson Hagen would have got a bronze medal on the 197-kilometre race to Revel.
Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) won the stage, out-sprinting Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Boasson Hagen respectively.
And South Africa’s Rio Olympian Daryl Impey was also in the thick of things, ending sixth on the stage.
The stage was seen as a slightly unpredictable stage as it began with a 22km category 1 climb and then gently rolled downhill. The Dimension Data team saw it as an important stage to get riders into the break and so Boasson Hagen and Steve Cummings did just that. A total of 15 riders made the break of the day, with some of the highest profile riders represented in the move from a variety of teams.
The peloton was in two minds as to whether they should or even could, chase the breakaway. In the end, with the rain falling throughout the day, the peloton didn’t really stand much chance with riders like Cummings (already a stage-winner this year), Boasson Hagen, Sagan, Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing), 3 Orica-BikeExchange riders and a few others driving the break. With 25km to go, Sagan took matters into his own hands and split the breakaway group with seven riders going clear.
The Orica-BikeExchange team was in the driving seat as Luke Dubridge, Daryl Impey and Matthews all made the front split. Boasson Hagen, Sagan, van Avermaet and Samuel Dumoulin AG2R La Mondiale) were the four riders that rode away with the Orica trio and the eight former breakaway riders quickly lost time to the new leaders. There was a short category 3 climb in the final 10km and it was thought the incline could make the difference but the Orica team did well to keep everyone in check.
Over the top of the climb, Boasson Hagen sped things up a bit before Impey then put in two stinging attacks but both were impressively covered by the World Champion, Sagan. Matthews who had been glued to the back wheel of Sagan from before the climb, now certainly had the upper hand, being the known fastest finisher in the group. Eventually the riders rolled onto the finishing straight and it was van Avermaet who made the first move. Boasson Hagen followed and then the others did too. It was a scrappy sprint and unfortunately Dimension Data’s Norwegian champion had to check his sprint twice as Matthews surged ahead with clear road in front of him to take the win.
Sagan just got his front wheel ahead of Boasson Hagen’s before the line which saw the World Champion take back the lead in the green jersey competition. The peloton rolled home over nine minutes down but Chris Froome (Team Sky) comfortably kept his lead in the overall yellow jersey competition.
Said Team Principle Doug Ryder: ‘Today’s stage was a super hard stage after the rest day. With a 22km climb in the beginning, it was really tough for the guys. If you look at Steve and Eddy who made the break and you see how tired they were, it shows how hard it was. Then riding in the rain and the cold, in the front, it was not an easy day for them.
‘When the group split it was amazing to have Eddy in the front and it would have been amazing to have Steve in the front as well but Steve has done a lot already this Tour. With Eddy against three Orica riders, I still think it was a good option for us but getting blocked in the sprint twice and not being able to open up properly was a bit of a disappointment for him, but a podium is fantastic.
‘A year ago we would have been elated with a podium, and we still are but having won four stages already we just keep thinking we want to win. A podium though, it is still amazing.’
In the General Classification, Lampre-Merida’s Louis Meintjies, Impey’s Rio Olympics teammate, is best-placed South African in ninth spot while Impey has moved up seven spots to 34th.
Wednesday’s 12th stage is an interesting one, offering something for both the sprinters, and those hoping to break away. The prevailing north-westerly Cers wind could also make things tricky. Just two stage 4 climbs lie in wait and for South Africans, the finish in Montpellier should bring back good memories as it was here back in 2007 that Robbie Hunter triumphed.