Newly crowned national champions MTN-Qhubeka showed their winning form when they swept to victory in the team time-trial on the second day of the Bestmed Tour de Boland, presented by ASG, near Stellenbosch on Wednesday.
Africa’s first Pro Continental team’s feeder riders set a blistering pace in near-perfect conditions on the 38km course to record a time of 48 minutes 14.1 seconds at the finish on the Allée Bleue wine estate.
They were followed home by the Stellenbosch-based Smith & Associates team, which incorporates the strong Maties outfit, in 51:50:17. In third, clocking 51:59:30, was JP van Zyl’s MTN World Cycling Centre Africa squad.
The win further asserts MTN-Qhubeka’s dominance on the overall standings with Australian Nic Dougall, South African JC Nel and Namibian Till Drobisch locking out the podium.
Dougall, who claimed the yellow jersey with a surprise performance in the individual time-trial the previous day, said the team had gone all out to make good time. “The guys made it really fast and the pace was smooth out there today.”
Nel agreed and said everything had gone to plan and that all six riders had been on song. “We came here for the overall victory and we are now on course for that.”
Although the stage did not count towards the individual classification, Nel said his squad had had more to play for. “We’d also like to win the team competition, so I think we took a big step towards that today.”
With two stage wins under their belts, the men in yellow and black now seem in firm control of the four-day tour. However, Nel said they would not be resting on their laurels in the testing 140km road race that visits Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl on Thursday.
He said the presence of world-class sprinters like Tasol-GT’s Nolan Hoffman and Barbadian Jesse Kelly, who are riding in the colours of ASG, would make a sprint finish less than desirable. “I think you can look forward to a very aggressive race tomorrow.”
For race updates, find the race on Facebook or follow @TourdeBoland. Visit www.bolandcycling.co.za for more information.
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MTN-Qhubeka’s Australian race leader Nic Dougall (second from left) and his team-mates prepare to start the team time-trial on the second day of the Bestmed Tour de Boland on Wednesday. Photographer: Capcha