Tour de France #11: Pauwels flies our flag as Cavendish exits Tour

Team Sky stamped their authority on this year’s edition of the Tour de France with Geraint Thomas taking the stage and the overall yellow leaders jersey. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) finished 2nd and Chris Froome (Team Sky) was 3rd.

Stage 11 of the Tour de France was just a short 108km but it packed as big a punch as any will this Tour de France, with 4 big categorised climbs between Albertville and San Bernardo.

With today being 18 July, Mandela Day in South Africa, our African Team wanted to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela on what would have been his 100th birthday. With this added motivation, Serge Pauwels ensured he was part of the 40-rider group that broke away on the first climb, and then pushed on in the break when most others got dropped on the next two categorised climbs.

Being the best placed rider on GC in the breakaway, Pauwels was the virtual yellow jersey on the road at one point while also climbing up to 2nd place in the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey competition. The final climb was just one climb too far for Pauwels, after also being in the break yesterday. Our Belgian lost contact on the final climb of the stage but it was a courageous day out front and one that held the name of Nelson Mandela up high.

Further down the road, the battle was on as the GC favourites ramped up the pace to claw back the rest of the breakaway riders. Team Sky totally dominated the stage, nullifying all attacks before Thomas launched one of their own. It was a telling attack that saw him take the victory and yellow jersey. Froome was easily able to follow the next best, to cross the line 3rd behind Dumoulin, placing Sky riders in 1st and 2nd overall.

For our African Team though, the day ended with the disappointment of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw both missing the time cut on today’s incredibly difficult stage. Being well down already halfway through the stage, and certainly going to miss the time cut, Cavendish showed great courage to battle on alone to finish the stage, being the final rider to cross the finish-line in San Bernardo.

Serge Pauwels – Rider
I knew there would be a big acceleration from behind at some point today. I was in the virtual yellow jersey for a while, as I was last year, so I guess I can add another jersey to my virtual closet now.  No but it was good to be up there again and also picked up some more King of the Mountains points so maybe that can become an objective.

Roger Hammond
“It’s never great to lose any riders, especially the two Marks, given the three potential stages ahead, that we could have had a go at. There is a ray of sunlight with Serge, who is having a great tour, being in the front and fighting for stages, and having the virtual yellow shows how consistent he has been in the two mountain stages.”