Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka got its World Tour season off to a cracking start with Mark Renshaw sprinting to 2nd place at the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under. Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) took the top spot on the day and also the race leaders jersey. Wouter Wippert (Cannondale) completed the stage podium in 3rd.
The stage was characterized by temperatures in the upper 30’s centigrade and a 3 man breakaway. Martijn Keizer (Lotto-Jumbo), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sean Lake (UniSA) were the escapees on the day. Orica-GreenEDGE assumed control of the peloton for the majority of the stage, keeping the trio’s lead locked under 2 minutes all stage.
By always keeping the break within touching distance, it was inevitably going to be a bunch kick on this mostly flat stage. After Lake went solo with 20km to go, he was finally caught at the 6km to go marker. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had ridden a clever race with the whole team staying together and out of trouble at the front of the peloton in the run in to the line.
Jaco Venter did a great job piloting our fast boys in the finale before Tyler Farrar really ramped up the pace in the final 2km. Mark was 4th wheel with a km to go, prime position, and he was able to overcome the 3 riders ahead of him but the in form GreenEDGE rider just had a kick that would be unmatched today. A superb start though by our African Team to place 2nd on the day and also have all our riders finish safely in the main bunch, a brilliant team effort.
Mark Renshaw – Rider
I am very happy to be on the podium here in the first stage of the Tour Down Under. This is the 14th time I start the Tour Down Under and it’s a pleasure to be here with my new team, Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
The finish was very hard to judge with a head wind finish and slight uphill. I maybe went a little too early once I’d seen the finish banner and that cost me the chance to win. Ewan did a really nice sprint, timing it perfectly behind me, he is in top shape where I have bigger objectives coming soon in the season.
The team rode well today and Tyler did a perfect job of putting me behind the Sky riders to start my sprint in the front of the bunch.