Top 10 finish for Sbaragli after Meintjes' breakaway on Saturday

Kristian Sbaragli finished sixth on Saturday in the Tour de Picardie (May 10-12 / UCI 2.1), bringing in the first top ten placing for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung in a race organized by Tour de France organizer ASO. The young Italian was beaten in the mass sprint of the second stage by Frenchman Bryan Coquard of Europcar. Second after 171 kilometers between Oisemont and Billeul-sur-Therain was German sprinter Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) ahead of Briton Andre Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Earlier, Sbaragli's South African teammate Louis Meintjes was in the breakaway group for the day for a long time.

"Today was a really tough stage with winding, narrow roads made even more harrowing with a stiff cross-wind. Louis [Meintjes] did the team proud by being in a five man break for most of the day", said directeur Sportif Kevin Campbell after the stage. "Kristian showed his fine form by sprinting shoulder to shoulder with the best sprinters in the race. This is a tough cycling school and I’m pleased to say these riders are passing their classes every day."

"Incredible ride by the team today with Louis Meintjes being in the breakaway and then unfortunately crashing and the team looking after Kristian for the sprint finish”, said team principal Douglas Ryder. “For Kris to finish sixth in a bunch sprint with this quality field will give him huge confidence, he is only 22 years old and has a huge future. We wanted to be visible in Picardie and today was a great day for the team."

After yesterday's 15th place finish, Kristian Sbaragli moved to tenth overall after two of three stages, behind overall leader Bryan Coquard. Going into the final stage, the Italian is 16 seconds down in GC.

The second day of the race in northern France was again marked by an escape group, which stayed away until shortly before the finish line in Bailleul-sur-Therain. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung rider Louis Meintjes was in the group along with four other riders. The young South African rode much of the day in the group until falling back to the peloton after a crash with about 40 kilometers to go.

The races ends Sunday with 171km between Nanteuil-le-Haudouin and Soissons. The three-day race, which has been held for more than 75 years, is traditionally one for the sprinters, and exposes the peloton to a lot of wind on the mostly flat terrain. While all three stages feature climbs, none are ranked.

Sbaragli brings in another top ten finish on Sunday

Kristian Sbaragli gave MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung another top ten finish, and was 12th overall at the Tour de Picardie (May 10-12 / UCI 2.1), the first race for the South African Continental team run by Tour de France organizer ASO. The young Italian sprinter finished 15th, sixth and seventh in the three stages of the race held in northern France. In the final ranking, he was only 26 seconds behind overall winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano).

As in the previous stage, an escape group dominated much of the stage, which ran 171km between Nanteuil-le-Haudouin and Soissons, but they were caught before the end and this stage too ended in a mass sprint. Kittel took the stage win, as he did in the first stage, this time ahead of Kenny Van Hummel and Danny Van Poppel, both of Vacansoleil-DCM. The two stage wins were enough to give Kittel the overall title, with stage two winner Bryan Coquard (Europcar) second and Van Hummel third.

The three-day race, which has been held for more than 75 years, is traditionally one for the sprinters, and exposes the peloton to a lot of wind on the mostly flat terrain. While all three stages feature climbs, none are ranked, and as this year, all traditionally end in mass sprints.

Race information: http://www.letour.fr/indexTDO_fr.html

Tour de Picardie (May 10-12 / UCI 2.1): Kristian Sbaragli (ITA), Martin Wesemann (RSA), Louis Meintjes (RSA), Songezo Jim (RSA), Meron Russom (ERI), Sergio Pardilla (SPA), Dennis van Niekerk (RSA), Jacgues Janse van Rensburg (RSA)

Staff: Kevin Campbell (Directeur Sportif), Tarryn Grunewald (Soigneur), Yvonne Houweling (Soigneur), Casper Bester (Mechanic), Francesco (Mechanic)