Tour de Suisse #7: Natnael Berhane fights to the finish after strong team effort

Natnael Berhane 3 Suisse Stage 5

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) won stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse, crossing the line solo with Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) following in 2nd place. 3rd place and also the race leaders yellow jersey went to Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin).

Billed the queen stage of this years Tour de Suisse at 224km in length, with 2 big mountains to be climbed, the stage would not be kind to Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. It was all but obvious that the race would be decided on the difficult 12km out of category climb to Solden. Our African Team were riding in support Natnael Berhane all day, in order to get him to the final climb in as best shape as possible.

Adrien Niyonshuti, Tyler Farrar and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg looked after the Eritrean all stage, keeping him out of the wind. In the kilometers leading up to the start of the final climb, Janse van Rensburg and Farrar brought Berhane up to the wheel of Team Sky at the head of the peloton. For the first 2km of the climb, Janse van Rensburg was able to climb alongside Berhane and the rest of the favourites.

Disaster then struck just as soon as a big push came from the main GC teams with 10km to go, Berhane punctured. Janse van Rensburg was on hand to give his wheel and a push to Berhane but the stop had cost our Eritrean dearly. As the race began unfolding up the road, Berhane had to ride the climb at his own pace, catching rider by rider. Van Garderen would arrive at the finish first and Berhane, after catching more than half the field again, finished in 23rd position.

Natnael Berhane – Rider
It was a difficult stage and a long stage. The team was looking after me very well all day, all the guys did such a good job and I am very thankful. Tyler and Reinie brought me in a good position for the last climb and my legs were feeling pretty good. I was hoping for a good result today but I had a flat wheel just before the race really got going. Reinie was there to give me his wheel and then I tried to get back but it was a very hard climb. I caught many guys but not enough for a top result. It is disappointing because the team worked so hard for me and I felt some good sensations today, that is how racing goes I guess.  

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