The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders were in the mix once again on stage 18 of Tour de France as the team had no less than three riders in the break of the day. At the end, Serge Pauwels did well to defend his Top20 place in the general classification.
Early on today’s stage, a big group got away from the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had been very attentive near the front and managed to get Jaco Venter, Steve Cummings and Serge Pauwels into the group. However, the collaboration up front wasn’t great and the break split up several times.
Towards the top of Col de Vars, four riders managed to get a gap on the rest of the breakaway. After the descent, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) decided to go solo. However, he was later joined – and then dropped – by Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates). Pauwels was chasing with what was left of the initial breakaway a bit further down.
With five kilometers to go, the strong Belgian was caught by Warren Barguil (Team Sunweb) who had attacked from the peloton. Pauwels continued to fight hard on the steep slopes, while Barguil bridged across to Atapuma at the front. Ultimately, Barguil soloed to victory, while Pauwels crossed the line in 20th place. He’s now 18th in general classification. Chris Froome (Team Sky) still leads overall with just three stages left to go.