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Dimension Data fall short in repeat of 2014 heroics

Dimension

Saturday’s stage 14 of the Tour de France brought back good memories for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as the finish in Mende was the same as in 2015, when Steve Cummings took that historic stage win for the African team on Mandela Day.

This year, the side were motivated to give the stage a good go once again and that’s exactly what Tom-Jelte Slagter and Julien Vermote did by making the big break of the day.

Omar Fraile (Astana) won the stage by being the best up the final climb. Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep) was second on the day with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) finishing third.

It was only after some early echelon action that the break of the day went clear, but when it did, 32 riders found themselves off the front of the main peloton. With no general classification (GC) contenders in the front group, Team Sky were happy to let the break go and decide the stage.

There were a number of world-class riders in the break, among it, Fraile, Alaphilippe, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

At 57km to go, just over the top of the category two Berthal climb, Slagter countered an attack by Gorka Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) and bridged over to the Spanish national champion along with Stuyven.

Initially, the trio worked well and opened up a one-minute lead over the big chase group behind.

Just after going over an uncategorised climb with 33km to go, Stuyven attacked Izaguirre and Slagter on the flat and put his classics specialist prowess on display, riding away solo on the descent.

Stuyven was able to stay away all the way to Mende, starting the final 3km climb one minute and 30 seconds ahead of the chase group that had swallowed up Slagter and Izaguirre.

The steep 10% average gradient climb was just too much for the Belgian rider though, as it was for Slagter after his earlier efforts. Fraile jumped from the breakaway to pass Stuyven just before the top of the climb and soloed to victory.

Alaphilippe was also just able to better Stuyven on the line, while Slagter came home in 19th place after giving all he could for the stage win; Vermote was three places further back.

Said Slagter after the punishing day: ‘It was a good stage for us so we gave everything to be in the break. It was a big group with us so we knew it wouldn’t work well towards the final with so many guys.

‘So I tried to split the group and get in the front. The descent I chose wasn’t ideal, it was a straightforward road with a lot of wind from the front.

‘I was only in front with two other guys. and it took out too much energy to be good in the final. Stuyven was the strongest, he dropped us and rode away alone.

‘I went back to the chase group that went to the climb, but I spent so much in my breakaway attempt that I couldn’t do anything on the final climb. It was a good day but the result is disappointing.’


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