Content provided by APO Group. CNBC Africa provides content from APO Group as a service to its readers and does not edit the articles it publishes. CNBC Africa is not responsible for the content provided by APO Group.
Ben O'Connor won stage 9 of the Tour de France, a brutally tough 144km mountain stage in the rain, through the Alps. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) held onto the overall race lead going into tomorrow's rest day.
Stage 9 of the Tour de France was always going to be an incredibly tough stage as there was almost zero flat kilometers in the 144km stage, which had a summit finish to Tignes.
Minding the fact that the riders have already dealt with 8 consecutive days of tough racing, today was made that much more treacherous as the peloton had to deal with a torrential downpour, from start to finish.
For Team Qhubeka NextHash, and for many other teams, it was purely a day of survival. After the first major climb of the stage there was less than half the 170 rider remaining at the front of the race. A brief slowing by the yellow jersey group allowed most riders to come back and a break to go clear up the road.
Ben O'Connor, Nairo Quintana and Sergio Higuita proved to be the strongest for most of the day, until the two Colombians faded on the final climb and O'Connor soloed to a magnificent victory.
Back down the road, there were small groups of riders all over the Alps. The descents were just about as difficult as the climbs, as the cold rain made it difficult for riders to brake, some even stopping to change into dry clothing.
Unfortunately Nicholas Dlamini was a victim to one of the fast descents and crashed while riding in the grupetto. It was a long a lonely battle for Dlamini from that point, as the race rode away from the 25-year-old South African.
While the rest of the Team Qhubeka NextHash riders would finish within the time limit, Victor Campenaerts by only 7 seconds, Dlamini would not make the time cut.
The young South African crossed the line 1hr 24mins after O'Connor, to huge applause as onlookers admired the courage shown by Dlamini to not give up.
It was a hard stage and there were some honest climbs; the nature of the stage and the weather didn’t make it easy. 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 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.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Team Qhubeka NextHash.
Note to Editors: Rights-free video, audio and image content is available via the following link here (https://bit.ly/36eIhgY).
Media Contact: Jean Smyth (Head of Communications) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mobile: +27 63 470 1710 or +31 625 739 033
About Team Qhubeka NextHash: Team Qhubeka NextHash is a purpose-led, high-performance team, fighting to win on the world's biggest stage, to inspire hope and create opportunity. Founded in 2007, Team Qhubeka NextHash (formerly NTT Pro Cycling) became the first-ever African cycling team to gain a UCI WorldTour license, in 2016.
We achieved our first major win in 2013 when Gerald Ciolek won Milan-San Remo, one of the five Monuments of cycling. We have competed in six Tour de France’s and notched up 7 stage wins, with Mark Cavendish wearing the coveted Yellow Jersey at the 2016 Tour de France.
We are a multicultural, diverse team with bases in South Africa, the Netherlands and Italy. There are 19 nationalities represented across our World Tour and continental feeder team rosters. Our focus on developing African cycling has resulted in more than 55 riders from the African continent be given the opportunity to race on the world stage, since the team's inception.
We race to help people to move forward with bicycles through our relationship with Qhubeka Charity. Through our work with Qhubeka, we have contributed to the distribution of over 30 000 bicycles in communities in South Africa.
About Qhubeka: Qhubeka is a charity that moves people forward with bicycles. People earn bicycles through our programmes, improving their access to schools, clinics and jobs.
A bicycle is a tool that helps people to travel faster and further, and to carry more. In the face of extreme and persistent poverty, bicycles can change lives by helping to address socioeconomic challenges at the most basic level – helping people to get where they need to go.
All images attached to the press release can be used with the respective image credit in combination to this release.