Cape Town - MTN-Qhubeka
took 20th spot in the team time trial on Stage 9 of the Tour de
France on Sunday and will welcome Monday’s rest day as they prepare for
the mountains with King of the Mountains jersey wearer Daniel
Teklehaimanot in their ranks.
The 28km team trial saw BMC Racing beat Team Sky and Movistar into second and third, respectively, on Sunday.
The African team had hoped for a strong ride, but were also
realistic in coming up against teams more experienced and
well-rehearsed in the team time trialling discipline. Norway’s Edvald
Boasson Hagen put in the lion’s share of work over the
final sectors of a tough course to bring the young African climbers
across the line in 34:11.
The team’s average speed of 49.1km/h saw them finish within 1:56 of the
reigning team time trial world champions by the end of the stage. With
no King of the Mountains points on offer during the team time trial,
Teklehaimanot kept his Polka Dot jersey.
Said Jens Zemke, the team’s Head of Performance: ‘We finished our team
time trial and we didn’t do a superb time but not too far away from the
best. We did expect a bit more but we must also realise it was the first
day this team rode together so it was not our main objective to go fast
in the team time trial.
‘We had a very good first week here in the Tour de France and we are
also heading into the mountains now. This is the terrain for our African
talents so we can live with our result today, we did our best and we
now look forward to the next tough stages.
MTN-Qhubeka dropped one slot to 15th out of 22 in the overall team
standings, 25:14 behind BMC Racing who lead Tinkoff-Saxo 4:04 in
Tuesday’s stage is from Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin, a ride of 167km. The first 150 of those are pretty much flat and rolling but
the mountaineers will come into their own over the last 15km.
The Col de la Pierre St Martin is a very hard climb. The average
gradient is listed as 7.4% for the 15 kilometres but the Pierre St
Martin is fairly shallow for the last third of the climb and experts
reckon a good climber in good form could do some real damage here.
Some more interesting stage date from Sunday’s team time trial:
6.2% – the average gradient of Côte de Cadoudal, the final 1.7km climb to the finish line of the stage
185 – the number of riders who started the stage
5th – the position of the rider whose time determined the team score in the team trial
2 016.2km – distance the cyclists still have to race to the finish on the Champs-Élysées
6 – the number of Orica GreenEDGE (OGE) riders in the team time-trial, making them the smallest team on the day
78.37km/h – top speed on the stage by Nicolas Roche (SKY) at the 16.5km mark
4:33 – the time gap between the first and last team.