When did mandela create a day???\U0001f914\U0001f914\U0001f914\U0001f914\U0001f914no it's world's day
- SA runners in search of elusive medals in Kampala
- Davids does the job on day one of Summer Series
- SA’s Strauss and Knox nail down Epic podium places
- Freiburghaus doubles up at Randpark
- Olympic champ Schurter moves into Cape Epic lead
- OJ Eagles, Western Warriors rule the Currie Cup roost
- Radebe hoping to realise Tokyo 2020 dream
- Continental track championships wrap up in style
- Young Guns rule the day at Cape Epic
- SA stars on track at continental championships
African side get top 10 Tour de France finish on Mandela Day
- Updated: July 19, 2016
It was a special day at the Tour de France for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka on Monday 18 July, celebrated as Mandela Day in South Africa.
Last year Steve Cummings gave the African team and continent a day to savour by winning on the former SA president’s birthday.
Monday saw the outfit lined up with the hope of repeating that feat.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) eventually won stage 16 by lunging across the line, just centimetres ahead of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling) was third in the select group sprint finish.
The 209 kilometres from Moirans-en-Motagne to Berne was a difficult stage to predict. It wasn’t flat but the sprinters still felt they could deal with the undulations of the day. The main concerns were centered around the technical final 5km, that included a short and sharp cobbled climb with 2km to go. The run into the the final also included a roller coaster road with some tight corners and so only one thing was certain, it would be a strong man who won.
The early action saw teammates Tony Martin and Julien Alaphillipe attack the peloton inside of the first 10km. Everybody knew the strength of Martin, a three-time world time trial champion, and so a number of teams started chasing immediately. Martin, who basically towed Alaphillipe along all day, kept the pressure on and this made for one of the fastest and toughest days of the race.
With 60km to go, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka started to put its plan into action when Cummings went to the head of the peloton in order to chase down the two leaders.
Despite the strength of the two up front, and thanks in large to the power of Cummings, the break was caught on the roller coaster road at 15km to go. As the African Team were riding for Edvald Boasson Hagen in the final, Cummings kept the high pace going until 5km to go. Bernhard Eisel did a great job in keeping the Norwegian champion out of the wind, delivering him to the foot of the cobbled climb in a good position.
An attack by a LottoNL-Jumbo rider was then quickly nullified by Dimension Data’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg on the cobbled climb. The peloton had shattered on the bumpy uphill though and Boasson Hagen found himself on the prized wheel of the world champ, Peter Sagan, with 1km to go.
The sprint started and the Norwegian did his best to follow the wheel of Sagan but it had been a difficult day and the world champion is a champion for a reason. A few riders were able to come around Boasson Hagen before the line and it would be ninth place for the team’s strongman on the day.
It was always going to be difficult to emulate last year’s Mandela Day success but the teamwork shown once again gave the African Team every reason to be proud of our result.
As the Tour moves into the second and final rest day, Louis Meintjes is still the highest placed South African on the General Classification. Part of Team South Africa at next month’s Rio Olympics, the Lampre-Merida rider is 12th, 5min 48sec down on Chris Froome in the yellow jersey.
His team-mate for Rio, Daryl Impey is 41st, the Orica-BikeExchange rider 1:11:24 back
Dimension Data sit in 21st spot on the team placings, 4:38:11 behind leaders Movistar.
Wednesday’s 17th stage is a tough 184 pull from Berne to Finhaut-Emosson and includes the gruelling Col de la Gueulaz, the last 800m of which the last 800m are all above a 12% gradient.
The race winds past the UCI headquarters in Aigle and everything points to this stage being a classic match-up between Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and Froome.