The Tour Down Under reached its conclusion today in downtown Adelaide with a 90km criterium style stage. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) won the final stage, but it was Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) who won the race overall. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka can be more than pleased with their efforts at the opening World Tour race of the season, as Tom-Jelte Slagter secured 3rd place overall and Nicholas Dlamini won the King of the Mountains competition.
The final stage of the Tour Down Under was a 90km stage run over 20 laps of a 4.5km circuit in the Adelaide city center. For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, it was all about conserving the 3rd place overall of Tom-Jelte Slagter and ensuring Nicholas Dlamini finished safely in the bunch to be crowned King of the Mountains. Not only did our African Team achieve both objectives, but Ben O’Connor set the final stage on fire by going on the attack with Logan Owen (EF Education First).
O’Connor was clearly the strongest in break, single-handedly forcing the gap open to 2-minutes, making him the virtual leader of the race. The duo would eventually be caught inside of 10km to go, but not before O’Connor picked up 3 bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint. This result saw the young Australian move up 4 spots on GC to place 18th overall, and collect some valuable World Tour points.
It was Dlamini and Slagter that took to the podium though when the ceremonies began. A stellar performance on the queen stage saw Slagter place 3rd overall behind Impey and Richie Porte (BMC Racing), a strong early season World Tour result for our African Team. Dlamini, who fast became a fan favourite here at the Tour Down Under thanks to spending 4 out of 6 stages in the break, won the King of the Mountains jersey. A remarkable performance by our 22-year-old South African, in his first World Tour race.
As a team, we couldn’t have hoped for a better start to our 2018 season. Finishing 2nd in the team classification was testament to how well the entire team worked during this week in Australia, that being our riders and staff. Our next race will be the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Melbourne next week, and our African Team will hope to keep the momentum going with another strong performance.
Tom-Jelte Slagter – Rider
I am really satisfied and happy that we could secure 3rd place on the last day, I am really proud of the guys for what they did this week. We had two neo-pros, some other young guys and a really experienced rider in Mark Renshaw, which made a real difference this week. My motivation was really high to start well here with my new team and now I can only say, we can all be really proud and happy with the way we raced this week.
Nicholas Dlamini – Rider
It has been a great week for the entire team, everyone did what they needed to. I am delighted to win my first leaders jersey in my first World Tour race. I think I learned a lot in just one week of racing so going forward I think I will still improve a lot. As a team, this was a great start to our season and I feel we will also just get better as the season progresses.