The 2015 edition of the most celebrated cycle race, Tour de France, has now been concluded after three gruelling weeks. Chris Froome won the race, his second victory after the one in 2013. The 30-year old Kenya-born Briton led most of the race, although the young Colombian Nairo Quintana made powerful attacks in last few mountain stages. Quintana may well become the first non-western winner of Le Tour, something he already achieved with Giro d’Italia last year.
South African team MTN-Qhubeka finished fifth in the team classification, not bad for a team participating the race for the first time. For a few days, the MTN-Qhubeka was second in the team classification. The highlight was when Steve Cummings, a Briton, won the 14th stage. Serge Pauwels of Belgium was the best MNT-Qhubeka rider in the general classification, finishing 13th. Their two Eritrean riders performed well, Daniel Teklehaimanot finished 49th while Merhawi Kudus was 84th out of 160 riders who finished the race. Kudus is just 21 years old and the youngest rider in the race. South African brothers Jense and Janse van Rensburg were 51st and 96th, respectively. Louis Meintjes had to abandon the race after falling sick, a blow for MTN-Qhubeka’s good run in the team race.
With these results MNT-Qhubeka proved their participation in the race was certainly justified, and their aim of nurturing world-class African cyclists is starting to bear fruit. Most of their riders are still young and have years ahead before reaching career peak, and there are other promising cyclist who did not get to participate Le Tour yet. Who knows if one them becomes the second Africa-born Grand Tour winner, after Chris Froome?
Related Blog post: African riders make their presence felt in cycle racing, July 12, 2015