Youcef Reguigui from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung made history today when he won the 3rd stage of the Tour d’ Azerbaidjan. While this was Youcef Reguigui’s first professional win personally, it is also the first professional win by an Algerian cyclist since Ahmed Kebaili won a stage 6a of the Criterium du Dauphine in 1952. In fact it is the first win ever by an Algerian since the nation won their independence in 1962, making this a significant day in cycling history. Reguigui was able to out sprint Matej Mugerli (Adria Mobil) and Kristian Haugaard (Giant-Shimano Development) to take the victory today.
The early racing saw 3 riders escape at around the 30km mark. Adrian Honkisz (CCC Polsat), Ivan Stevic (Tusnad) and Thomas Vaubourziek (La Pomme Marseille) were the 3 riders that were able to open up 5’30” lead over the peloton. With 50km to go, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung along with a few other teams took up the chase. The break was reeled in with less than 10km to go after some sterling pacing by Johann van Zyl. It was then left to Linus Gerdemann to lead out Reguigui and the German did his job to perfection. Reguigui opened his sprint from 300m out and was able to win by 2 bike lengths in the end. The only downside to the day for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung came when Dennis van Niekerk crashed out of the race, luckily nothing was broken and van Niekerk will now how have a few easy days off before returning to training
The win for Reguigui comes after the Algerian has had an extremely busy start to the season. Currently Reguigui has the most race days, 48, out of all the professional cyclist’s for the 2014 season. Before coming to Azerbaidjan, Reguigui was on duty in the Tour of Turkey where he led out team mate Kristian Sbaragli to no less than 5 top 10 placings. Today it was Reguigui’s time to shine and despite the accumulative fatigue, the Algerian was still the fastest on the uphill sprint.
Rider – Youcef Reguigui
Today was hard because it was always up and down but my team was very good all day. They supported me well all stage and in the final the guys rode hard to bring back the break. Linus was very strong and he did a great job to lead me out in the last kilometer. I started my sprint a bit early but i knew the finish so i was able to win. This victory is very important to me because it is my first professional win so it is a good day for me but also for the team. It is also a good day for Algeria though because this is the first professional win for our country and i must thank Team MTN-Qhubeka on behalf of Algeria for giving us this opportunity. I think the people in Algeria will be happy with this win and i hope in some way this can open some doors or opportunities for the young cyclists in Algeria.
Stage 4 – Qabala > Pirqulu (115km)
The queen stage that will end with a HC categorised climb. There are 2 categorised climbs before the summit finish that will also ensure that the races strongest climbers will contest the stage.
Stage 5 – Baku > Baku (202km)
The longest stage of the race comes to an end with 6 laps of a 13.6km circuit which will include short sharp climb a short cobble road section too. A reduced bunch is expected to contest for the stage in a sprint.
Tour d’Azerbaïdjan (Azerbaïdjan) – (7 May – 11 May/UCI 2.1) Team Lineup
Staff: Manel Lacambra (Directeur Sportif), Yvonne Houweling (Soigneur), Nico Beyens (Soigneyr), Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic), Andreas Beck-Watt (Mechanic)