Africa's team ride to two top 20 spots as Tour hits the mountains | SASCOC - SASCOC

Africa’s team ride to two top 20 spots as Tour hits the mountains

MTN-Qhubeka’s fine showing in the Tour de France continued on Tuesday as the African team supplied two of the top 20 riders in the first mountain stage of the event, a 167.5km slog from Tarbes to La Pierre-St-Martin.
Belgum’s Serge Pauwel took 14th spot as Team Sky’s Chris Froome road off into the distance, while national road champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg took 18th. Surprisingly, the team’s more established climber, Louis Meintjes was in 24th spot as the tour smashed into the Pyrenees
MTN-Qhubeka’s efforts were seen in the team standings as they ended fifth on the stage 10:06 behind Team Sky and moved a solid five places up in the General Classification team standings, from 14th to ninth, now 27:50 behind Team Sky.
The stage was pretty much a 150km flat run to the foot of the La Pierre-Saint-Martin, a 15.3km HC category climb. There would be two lone escapees in the early part of the stage but Team Movistar and FDJ made sure they would be caught on the final climb’s lower slopes.
MTN-Qhubeka were looking forward to the first climbing day as their young African climbers could stretch their legs for the first time. The experienced Serge Pauwels brought the team into a good position to start the climb as Movistar then set a violent pace from the foot of the climb.
In no time at all the peloton was down to less than 40 riders with Pauwel, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Louis Meintjes all still part of the front group. Riders continued to drop, one by one as the climb started to bare its teeth. With 10km to go there were only 25 odd riders left, a number of favourites already dropped, yet MTN’s three climbers remained in the front group. It was at this point though that Team Sky took control and the race subsequently blew to pieces.
Pauwels held on to the front group right up to about 7km to go, where soon after Froome made his race winning attack.
Pauwels went on to say: ‘My initial goal was to be in the long breakaway but after trying in those first few kilometres I felt I had good legs after the rest day. In the final I was surprised that I was able to follow the best for such a long time. I didn’t want to get in the way of the real GC guys so at first I gave them some space but then I saw Nibali got dropped and I still had good legs. I just kept riding within my own limits. This is a great result for me. I’m happy to have been given so much confidence by the team.
Wednesday’s 11th stage is a rolling 188 kilometres between Pau and Cauterets Vallee de Saint-Savin. It’s this stage that sees the high point of the Pyrenean, the Col du Tourmalet before a short but steep climb into Cauterets.

More interesting stage 10 data courtesy of Dimension Data

1314 metres – the altitude the riders had to climb on the stage – from the start at Tarbes (13th time stage town) at an altitude of 296 m, to the finish at La Pierre-Saint-Martin (1st time stage town) at 1610 m.
10.8% – steepest gradient on the climb up Col de Soudet, part of the extremely demanding final 15.3 km climb towards the finish in the family-friendly ski resort of La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
1342 m – depth of the immense underground chasm, beneath La-Pierre-Saint-Martin, one of the most impressive in the world and very well known to cavers and geologists.
2005 – when the last time a Frenchman won a Tour de France Stage on Bastille Day, David Moncoutié won the stage exactly 10 years ago, on the occasion of France’s national day.
53 – the total number of Maillot à Pois points available, including 50 for the stage winner, for 1st place in the hors catégorie climb to the finish on the summit of La Pierre-Saint-Martin.
15.3 km at 7.4% – distance and average gradient of the hors catégorie climb of La Pierre-Saint-Martin to the stage finish at km 167.
Distance and average gradients of the 3 category 4 climbs on the stage:
– 1.4 km at 6.2% – climb of Côte de Bougarber at km 66 
– 1.7 km at 5.9% – climb of Côte de Vielleségure at km 90
– 1.8 km at 6.3% – climb of Côte de Montory at km 134
3 KOM points – earned by van Bilsen (COF) for winning all 3 category 4 climbs today.
22.44 km/h – the fastest up La Pierre-Saint-Martin, Chris Froome (SKY).
33.06 km/h – speed of Intermediate sprint winner, Pierrick Fedrigo (BSE) at the checkpoint.
64.67 km/h – top speed on the stage by André Greipel (LTS), Mark Cavendish (EQS), and John Degenkolb (TGA) at km 123.75.
14:28 – the time gap between the first and last rider.
183 – the number of riders who started today’s stage.
1510.8km – total distance the riders have travelled from Utrecht.

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