Mark Cavendish made it another incredible day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as he won stage 14 of the Tour de France. It was Cavendish’s 4th win of the Tour and our African Team’s 5th of the race this year. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) finished 2nd and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) placed 3rd.
The 208km from Montelimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux was always looked at as being a stage for the sprinters. It was a stage our sprint ace, Cavendish had targeted weeks ago and so our African Team’s plan was clear from early on in the stage. When 4 riders went clear in a breakaway attempt, Natnael Berhane went to the front of the peloton to control the gap.
The threat of crosswinds was constant throughout the day and so our African Team made sure to keep the gap under 4-minutes for the entire day while also keeping Cavendish protected at the head of the peloton. With 25km to go, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Serge Pauwels took over from Berhane and began upping the tempo with a precarious crosswind section coming up. The faster pace meant the breakaway was caught just inside 10km to go and a few riders then lost contact with the head of the race.
Cavendish and our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka troops were perfectly positioned to execute our plan for the finale. Bernhard Eisel was flawless in piloting the boys up until 6km to go and then our South African, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg took over. For the final kilometer Cavendish had Boasson Hagen as his guardian right up until our Manxman fixed himself to the wheel of Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep).
Kittel launched the sprint with around 250m to go and Cavendish was poised to jump going around the final right hand bend. Cavendish did so perfectly, rocketing into the lead and across the line first to take his 30th career Tour de France stage victory. A phenomenal achievement for the Manxman and a special win for our African Team, coming on the final day of our #Qhubeka5000 challenge campaign.
Mark Cavendish – Rider
It was a great day. It was a long day and it was easy to lose concentration and waste energy on a day like today. When it’s a headwind and the sun is out like that, you really have to try preserve yourself. The guys made sure I had everything I needed and was sheltered from the wind the whole day. Natnael rode the whole day from the front and then it was important to be on the front from a long way out because of the narrow road. We had Daniel and Serge riding to control the bunch and catch the breakaway. We had to use Bernie up early as well. He had to drop us off with 6km to go. From then on it was Reinie and Edvald looking after me. With 2km to go I saw Etixx-Quickstep were a little undermanned for a headwind finish, so I made sure I was on Marcel Kittel’s wheel. Edvald stayed there with me to make sure I was sheltered from the wind and I just rode of the back of those. Kittel was left a little early into the headwind so I waited until he got his peak speed and then jumped around him for the line. I am really happy with another win for Team Dimension Data and more exposure for Qhubeka, to get 5000 children on bicycles.