Cape Town - It was a day of many highs for Team MTN-Qhubeka with Daniel Teklehaimanot being the first rider to get the 102nd Tour de France started as he rolled off the start ramp in Utrecht. The crowds, which were bursting at the seams at around 800 000 strong, made for an unbelievable atmosphere which motivated the African team in their first ever appearance at the race.
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But the highlight for the team came in the form of Briton Steve Cummings, who stormed home in an exceptional time of 15'28" over the 13.8km course. Cummings's time would be good enough for 10th on the day in an overall field of 198 of the best riders in the world.
"It was a super day. Physically the effort was good but I also never really felt composed. I don't know, I think it was possibly the occasion that got to me a bit and I messed up a lot of corners, well pretty much every corner actually," Cummings said afterwards.
"But having said that, to come to the biggest bike race in the world it is great for the team to see we can all make mistakes but are able to compete with the best in the world. It was my goal to really deliver something good today for that reason, to give the team a bit of a lift and some confidence. Unfortunately it wasn't as good as I hoped but I think it was still pretty good to be honest."
The team's head of performance Jens Zemke was also full of praise for the riders.
"I think we can be really proud and really happy with the result we achieved," he said.
"A top 10 in the opening stage is what we wanted, it was what we were trying to achieve and Steve did. The crowd was also amazing being at the Tour de France for the first time, so Steve finishing 10th is beautiful."