Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung completed it’s first race of the season on Sunday in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo. The team leaves the race with a stage win thanks to Ferekalsi Debesay’s strong stage four ride. Linus Gerdemann marks his return to racing by finishing fifth overall and Songezo Jim leaves as the most combative rider.
“I’m really happy with how things went,” Gerdemann said at the end of the stage. “To finish in the top five in my first race for over a year is good. I came here to get some racing in the legs and I felt very strong. I was also surprised by the level of the racing here. I think it was a very good advert for African cycling. I wasn’t surprised by Ferekalsi’s win at all because from the first day he was so strong. The guys on the team are incredible and have huge potential and myself and John-Lee [Augustyn] in particular used his experience to help the younger guys. I am excited for the season ahead,” Gerdemann added.
The team was aggressive throughout the race and made the main escape of each day which was the plan explains sports director, Kevin Campbell.
“Overall the team rode really well and we were in the racing everyday except for maybe today. The guys were working well together and they really gelled which is great for the first race of the season. Ultimately we would have liked a little more but it doesn’t always go according to plan,” Campbell said.
“We’re happy to have won a stage. This is our third participation in the race and we’re happy to walk away with a victory. We would have liked to achieve more in GC and place a rider on the podium but there was some really good opposition here this year.”
The team now turns its attention to training camps in South Africa and Mallorca where it will prepare for the South African national championships and the European season which is to get underway shortly.