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Pauwels secures top 30 spot for Dimension Data

Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Serge Pauwels ended 29th in Wednesday’s gruelling 11th stage of the Tour de France.

Team Sky stamped their authority on this year’s edition of the Tour with Geraint Thomas taking the stage and the overall yellow leader’s jersey. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) finished second and Chris Froome (Team Sky) was third.

The stage was just a short 108km but it packed as big a punch as any will this Tour de France, with four big categorised climbs between Albertville and San Bernardo.

With Wednesday being 18 July, Mandela Day in South Africa, the only African team on the tour wanted to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela on what would have been his 100th birthday.

With this added motivation, Pauwels ensured he was part of the 40-rider group that broke away on the first climb, and then pushed on in the break when most others got dropped on the next two categorised climbs.

Being the best-placed rider on GC in the breakaway, Pauwels was the virtual yellow jersey on the road at one point while also climbing up to second place in the king of the mountains polka dot jersey competition.

The final climb was just one climb too far for Pauwels, after also being in the break on Tuesday. The Belgian lost contact on the final climb of the stage but it was a courageous day out front and one that held the name of Nelson Mandela up high.

Further down the road, the battle was on as the GC favourites ramped up the pace to claw back the rest of the breakaway riders. Team Sky dominated the stage, nullifying all attacks before Thomas launched one of their own.

It was a telling attack that saw him take the victory and the yellow jersey. Froome was easily able to follow as next best, to cross the line third behind Dumoulin, placing Sky riders in first and second overall.

For the African team though, the day ended with the disappointment of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw both missing the time cut on today’s incredibly difficult stage. Being well down already halfway through the stage, Cavendish showed great courage to battle on alone to finish the stage, being the final rider to cross the finish line in San Bernardo.

Pauwels was philosophical about his performance in the stage: ‘I knew there would be a big acceleration from behind at some point today.

‘I was in the virtual yellow jersey for a while, as I was last year, so I guess I can add another jersey to my virtual closet now. But it was good to be up there again and I also picked up some more king of the mountains points so maybe that can become an objective.’


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