On Thursday, June 15, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka lines up for Tour de Slovénie with a strong and highly motivated team. The Slovenian stage race, which concludes on the following Sunday, June 18, will serve as the comeback race for Mark Cavendish, who’s finally ready to pin on a start number again after suffering from Epstein-Barr Virus for the past months.
The majority of the four stages in Tour de Slovénie look to be a matter for the sprinters. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka has packed its roster with fast riders. However, with a challenging mountain top finish on stage 3, the sprinters won’t be able to contest for the overall win. The 13.7 km uphill towards the finishing line in Rogla have an average gradient of 7.5 %, meaning only the best climbers in the race will have a chance to fight for glory.
Last year, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka made podium in two of the four stages in the race. This time, the team aims to repeat and hopefully improve that performance with a strong lineup consisting of the following seven riders: Cavendish, Bernhard Eisel, Nathan Haas, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Mark Renshaw, Kristian Sbaragli and the young South African sprinter Ryan Gibbons who impressed hugely in last month’s Giro d’Italia by making Top10 no less than six times in his debut Grand Tour.
“I’m really happy to be back racing and I’m glad that it’s here at Tour de Slovénie. This is a beautiful country and the people are so warm and welcoming. Coming back from illness, I’m as fit as I can be after four weeks of training. It has been really difficult because I have had to monitor what I have been doing very closely. It’s not like you wake up one morning and you’re feeling better, you have to take it step by step. Even this week in the race, I’ll be monitoring the workload. As a team we have come here to win but the team is definitely not built around me. We have young Ryan Gibbons and Kristian Sbaragli for the sprints and Jacques Janse van Rensburg for the mountain stage. Personally, I just want to make sure I’m part of the victory in whichever way I can be”.