MTN-Qhubeka held their own once again in stage 13 of the Tour de France bike race on Friday.
The day saw the first transitional stage between the Pyrenees and the Alps (Muret to Rodez, 189.5km) which would be won by Belgian, Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing). Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was in second place and Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale) took third.
A six-rider break went clear inside of 10km from the start but Team Giant-Alpecin had ideas of a stage win on Friday and held the escapees around four minutes all day. With 40km to go, Orica-Greenedge and Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung came to the fore in assisting to reel in the fugitives.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Steve Cummings would all put in some big turns as the Tour’s first African team were looking to set up Edvald Boasson Hagen for the tough final kilometre sprint. The break fought valiantly to hold on to some sort of advantage and would reach the flamme rouge with a 15-second lead. The gradient of over 8% that took the riders to the line would be to the detriment of the final three surviving breakaway riders though.
Boasson Hagen started the short sharp climb in a good position, just behind Sagan but unfortunately it would not be the Norwegian champion’s day. Van Avermaet surged clear with 400m to go, Sagan tried to match the BMC rider but just ran out of steam 20m before the line.
The finish had been a lot tougher than many had anticipated with the GC riders filling the majority of the top 20 stage placings.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider Said Boasson Hagen: ‘It was a really hot day but our team was working really well, especially in the end. After always keeping me in the front, Steve and Daniel helped to chase down the break. When it came to the last climb my legs were empty. It was too warm and the lactic acid was too much so I couldn’t do anything on the climb which was a pity, but the team was excellent.’
In the team stakes, MTN-Qhubeka ended 10th on the day to maintain their seventh spot on the General Classification, 47min 15sec behind leaders Movistar.
Saturday’s 14th stage features a quiet stage in the Massif Central, 178.5km between Rodez and Mende. But there’s still a sting in the tail with a steep finishing climb which will make things interesting.
Some more fascinating stage data from Dimension Data
175 – the number of riders who started Friday’s stage.
2092.3 km – the riders are now almost two thirds of the way into their journey to Paris.
570 m – the length of the final grueling 9.6 % gradient climb to the finish.
2 – the number of times Kwiatkowski (EQS) has been recognised as the most combaitive rider. He is the only rider so far in this year’s Tour de France to wear the red number more than once.
43.15 km/h – speed of De Gendt (LTS) as he won the intermediate sprint at Laboutarie.
23.87 km/h – the everage speed reached by De Gendt (LTS) as he takes the win on the first climb of the stage.
27.69 km/h – the everage speed of Geniez (FDJ) as he wins the the category 4 climb at Côte de Pomparie.
92.23 km/h – top speed recorded on the stage by Quinziato (BMC) at the 153 km mark.
37.9 km/h – average speed of today’s stage winner Greg van Avermaet (BMC) in final kilometre.
41.10 km/h – average speed on the stage.
21’ 37′ – time between first and last rider.