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Fifth-place Tour de France finish for Dimension Data

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Dimension Data’s Serge Pauwels powered to fifth spot in the Tour de France on Tuesday.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors) won the first mountain stage of this year’s Tour de France, soloing to victory on stage 10. Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) finished in second place while third went to Rein Taaramae (Direct-Energie).

The first mountain stage was a thriller with no less than five categorised climbs packed into the relatively short 158-kilometre stage.

The stage started with a bang, as many riders hoped to make the early break, believing they would survive to the finish. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was of the same opinion and had Pauwels and Tom-Jelte Slagter making the moves.

It was after the category-four 19th climb when the break of the day finally formed. Twenty-one riders went clear and both the African teams’ climbers had done well to make the selection. The break drove the pace as the peloton, led by Team Sky, settled into a rhythm.

A few riders were dropped from the break after the category one Col de Croix-Fry and out-of-category Glieres Climb, but Pauwels and Slagter remained up front and went on to start the Col de Romme with a lead of six minutes and 20 seconds over the peloton. It was clear at this point that the break would make it.

Taaramae was first to attack on De Romme, going into the lead with 35km to go. Alaphilippe and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) were first to respond with Pauwels next to set off. Over the top, Alaphilippe had eclipsed Taaramae, going into the lead with 15 seconds over the Estonian while Pauwels was third on the road, a further 15 seconds behind.

There was one climb that remained, the Col de la Colmbiere as Alaphilippe increased his lead on the climb, as no other rider could match his pace on the 7.5km ascent. Izaguirre was able to pass Pauwels on this final climb and linked up with Taaramae ahead. The yellow jersey race leader, Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing), had a great day and was able to catch up to Pauwels just before the climb’s summit.

The 14km downhill to the finish line in Le Gran-Bornand saw no further changes in position. Alaphilipe went on to take an incredible stage win and also the polka dot king of the mountain jersey after his stellar ride. For Pauwels, it was fifth on the stage, his seventh career top 10 stage performance at the Tour de France with the African team.

Pauwels said after the stage: ‘It was our plan to have either Tom-Jelte or myself in the break today. In the end, we both turned up in the break which was really good for us.

‘The break went away on the first climb of the day with 21 riders and they were all really strong guys. Once you make the break, that’s the first race of the day done but then it all starts again for the stage, in that select group.

‘It was a really tough stage, I think I did well, I gave everything I had and in the end, I think fifth was the place I belonged today. I’m pretty happy with that performance.’

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Meanwhile, Team Dimension Data will wear a special edition orange Oakley helmet on Wednesday’s 11th stage, as part of the global Mandela Day centenary celebrations.

Orange is the official colour of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the team will wear the same as a tribute to him.

After the stage, the helmets will be signed by the riders and auctioned off at a later date with the proceeds all going to Qhubeka. In addition, all the riders and staff will also be wearing a variety of T-shirts from the 46664 range, a Nelson Mandela Foundation initiative.

The helmets were presented to the team’s eight riders at dinner on Tuesday night by team principal Douglas Ryder, who also shared a few thoughts on what Nelson Mandela’s legacy means.

‘Mandela Day has a special place in our hearts. As a South African registered team on the World Tour, we are incredibly proud to be able to play our part in continuing to shine the light on the iconic former statesman.

‘Mr. Mandela would have been 100 years old in 2018 and so to have the chance to show our appreciation to him and his family is a real privilege. The theme this year is “Be the Legacy” and we believe that resonates with what we are trying to achieve, both on and off the bike, perfectly. Imagine the impact we could have if everyone followed his example, and tried to make a difference in the lives of others – this is why we race.

‘Our first stage win at the Tour de France was on this day in 2015, which gives it an even greater special meaning to our team.’

 


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