Tour of Oman #1: Serge Pauwels 2nd on opening stage
Dimension Data for Qhubeka ride into strong position in Oman opener with 3 in the top 15
The Tour of Oman got off to a near perfect start for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as Serge Pauwels come home in 2nd place, a few seconds behind Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep). Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) was 3rd with our Edvald Boasson Hagen in 4th.
After an early escape of 5 riders was neutralised with 20km to go, there was all to play for as 2 short steep climbs had to be dealt with in the finale of the stage. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were in a strong position with numbers at the head of the peloton.
The pace was on, going up the first drag which saw a number of big name riders distanced. Our African Team took advantage of the situation by helping to drive the pace to the final climb which began with 5km to go. Pauwels & Boasson Hagen were accompanied by teammates Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus and Nathan Haas on the final kicker as a flurry of attacks shattered the peloton.
Over the top it was all strung out but on the descent it regrouped somewhat with Pauwels, Boasson Hagen and Janse van Rensburg making the front split of 16 riders. Kudus and Haas were in a small 2nd chase group. It was with 2km to go that Jungels threw caution to wind with a solo attack. Pauwels tried to put in a big turn on the front to bring the lone leader back but he ended up getting a gap on the group. The Belgian put his head down but couldn’t quite get onto the wheel of the Etixx rider before the line arrived. Jungels took a solo win, 6 seconds ahead of Pauwels, Bardet brought the chase group home in 3rd just 2 seconds later, after also putting in a late solo surge.
Pauwels now sits 2nd on both the general classification and in the points competition after stage 1. With Boasson Hagen in 4th place today and Janse van Rensburg also finishing with the select front group in 14th, Dimension Data for Qhubeka go into the rest of the week’s racing in a strong position.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
There was a big selection on the last climb and I wasn’t actually in a great position at the bottom, so I was always just behind the leaders. I got back to the front group with Jacques on the descent at around 3km to go. The group split again going through a corner and when Jacques and I got back to the front there was only 1.5km to go. I wanted to do one good pull after the last roundabout for Edvald but nobody followed my wheel and so I kept chasing Jungels myself. Unfortunately, I could not catch his wheel in the end.
Jean Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was a strong ride by all the boys today so we can be happy with our performance but we did miss the victory as well, and so we look forward to taking the top step in the upcoming days.
Team Dimension Data For Qhubeka
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka was founded in 2007, steadily working its way up from a regional team to now being a World Tour team with bases in South Africa and Italy. It?s also known as Africa?s Team due to its focus on helping African talents to the world stage of cycling. The team races to raise funds for the Qhubeka Charity to mobilise people on bicycles in Africa. To contribute to the #BicyclesChangeLives Campaign, click here.
Qhubeka is an Nguni word that means ?to progress?, ?to move forward?. Qhubeka (qhubeka.org) is part of World Bicycle Relief (worldbicyclerelief.org), a global non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing education, health and economic opportunities by providing simple, sustainable transportation through the power of bicycles.
Dimension Data is a global company specializing in information technology services. Founded in 1983 in South Africa its focus areas include network integration and security solutions among others. Dimension Data operates worldwide in more than 50 countries.
Learn more about the team at www.africasteam.com.