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.