I write this from Pau on the Tour de France rest day while our MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders take a well-deserved afternoon nap. The Pyrenees Mountains loom threateningly on the horizon but some of our riders have been patiently biding their time and can’t wait to test themselves on those famous slopes.
The opening week has proven to be one of the most crash-ridden in recent memory. The high velocity crashes have resulted in a grizzly list of injuries including clavicle fractures, cervical and lumbar vertebrae fractures, a wrist fracture, a scapular fracture, AC joint injuries as well as some very severe abrasions (“road rash”). No fewer than 14 riders have had to abandon the race already, most due to injury. Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin who were wearing the seemingly cursed Yellow Jersey at the time of their crashes have both had to abandon the race. A name included in the list of casualties is that of our countryman, Daryl Impey. We wish him and the other injured riders a speedy recovery.
Our riders did not escape the carnage completely and several of our athletes have hit the asphalt more than once. Thankfully, nothing more severe than deep cuts and abrasions were sustained by any of them and many of the wounds have healed very well already. Careful preventative medicine combined with a little good luck has ensured that we will have 9 healthy and happy riders lining up for the stages in the Pyreneés. 11 other teams have been less fortunate and will be at least a man short for the business end of the Tour.
Emvit and Takeda South Africa have been instrumental in our successful start to our first Tour de France. As the official medical sponsor to Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung since 2013, they sponsor our race doctors, the cost of our riders UCI Quarterly obligatory medical assessments, and provide us with range of pharmaceutical grade micronutrient supplements. Their support has allowed us to provide our riders with high-level medical care at the Tour and also during their preparation for it.
During the season quarterly assessments are performed which allow us to carefully monitor each rider’s health and proactively manage potential health issues. The presence of our team doctors in racing ensures that injuries and illness are effectively and professionally managed. Our riders use a range of Takeda nutritional products including Emvit, Emvit M, CalD3, Ferrimed, Magnesit and Dona, to specifically supplement their individualised, scientifically composed designed dietary plans. Avoiding illness is crucial in a 3 week tour and nutrition has a big role to play in supporting a healthy immune system.
Avoiding severe injury and illness has certainly not been the team’s only achievement on the Tour. We have already had multiple top 10 stage results and the famous polka dot jersey will be on the back of Daniel Teklehaimanot tomorrow, as it has been since he earned it on Stage 6. Team morale is high and the support from South African, Norwegian and Eritrean fans has been nothing short of overwhelming. Our climbers are champing at the bit to show the world what they can do in the high mountains of The Pyrenees and The Alps. It should make for exciting viewing!
Allez Team MTN Qhubeka!