Two of the three South Africans in the Tour de France, Nicholas Dlamini and Stefan De Bod, are out of the race after missing the time cut following a brutal Sunday in the Alps.
The country’s other rider, Louis Meintjes, finished 33rd on the 144.9km stage, to move up to 19th in the general classification, some 26min 40sec behind yellow jersey wearer and defending champion Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates.
The last day in the Alps proved to be a challenge for many riders, not only because of the difficulties of the climbs, but also because of the rainy and cold weather. Although some riders thrive under these conditions, others like Dlamini suffered the consequences.
The South African crashed while riding down a fast descent but despite this, he was determined to finish the stage and crossed the finish line 1hr 24min after the winner of the stage Ben O’Connor.
‘It was a hard stage and there were some honest climbs; the nature of the stage and the weather didn’t make it easy,’ said Dlamini. ‘It was just a bad day to have a bad day. I was already unlucky to also crash and lost contact and after that I was on my own, so it was really difficult to just ride a good pace and get to the guys on my own.
‘I would have loved to finish the race, but it is sad to finish this way, but for me the most important thing was not to stop and ride until the finish regardless of being out of the time limit. It’s a special race, and it’s always been a dream of mine to ride the Tour de France, and I think just getting off my bike and into a car wouldn’t be an option.
‘I’m glad that I finished, even though I finished an hour and half from the winning time – it was a hard, bad day. I’d really like to thank everyone for the great support, from when the Tour started up until this point. The support has been amazing and that was the reason that I wanted to really finish today and not get off my bike and into a car. This is a race that I wanted to honour, and honour my dream. It was my first Tour de France and I knew it would be hard, but I’ve honoured that dream; I am disappointed but at this point there’s not much I can do.’
Both Dlamini and De Bod are included in Team SA for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.