MTN-Qhubeka best team - again!

Serge Pauwels (Gruber Images)
Serge Pauwels (Gruber Images)

Paris - Stage 17 of the Tour de France would be another excellent day for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, as the African team consolidated its second place in the team ranking overall by having three riders finish in the top 15 on the stage. Simon Geschke (Giant-Alpecin) was the rider who won the stage.

With a large break of 28 riders going clear, MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had three riders placed in the big move of the day. Serge Pauwels, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus were the three riders on the attack. It would be a tough first stage in the Alps with five categorised climbs on the menu.

The real action began when the lead group started attacking each other with 50km to go. Geschke would eventually get away alone and he was being chased by Teklehaimanot on the lower slopes Cat 1 Col d'Allos. A few more attacks from the chasers, which were all marked by Pauwels and Kudus, saw Teklehaimanot being caught. Near the summit of the penultimate climb, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) put in a stinging attack that broke the chase group apart.

There was a rather treacherous descent to the final 6km climb with Pinot even hitting the tarmac. Geschke though, started the final climb with a 1:51 lead over his nearest chaser and it was enough to solo to victory at the top of the climb.

Pauwels was the first MTN Qhubeka rider across the line in ninth place, while Teklehaimanot and Kudus finished in 12th and 14th respectively. It was a superb performance that saw the team finishing as the best team on the stage once again, pulling back 3:53 on Movistar who lead the team standings. Another significant result was that Pauwels moved up to 15th place on the general classification.

There was also another race on within the stage today for our young climbing sensation, Louis Meintjes, who was fighting to finish within the time cut. Meintjes started the stage after falling ill overnight, with stomach problems severely affecting the young rider. Meintjes would spend the majority of the race alone and well off the pace. Eventually, with just three minutes to spare before the time cut, Meintjes crossed the line.

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