Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were part of the early action on today's 174km stage from Moudan to Morgins. Our South African champion, Jaco Venter, broke away inside the first 20km of the stage with 5 other riders. Venter and his companions combined well to forge out a gap of 5 minutes over the Movistar led peloton.
The main features of the stage only came in the final 22km though. Riders would first take on the cat 2 climb to Les Champs before a short descent and then the final 9km cat 1 climb to Morgins. Venter had ridden well in the break but the big GC teams of Sky, Movistar and FDJ all ensured the final showdown would be between their leaders on these final 2 climbs.
As we approached the cat 2 climb, our African Team were looking to deliver Merhawi Kudus to a good position. Venter and the other breakaway riders were reeled in on the lower slopes while Kudus and Natnael Berhane were looking good on the positive gradient. It was only a small group of around 40 riders that went over the top of the penultimate climb together.
The final climb was attacked with some venom by the lead group and the telling move came when Quintana and Zakarin got away with 5km to go. The chase blew the race to bits and each rider was then on their own. Kudus hung on for as long as he could, but got distanced near the top. Our Eritrean still rode hard to the line and came home 21st, 1'33" after Quintana and Zakarin. Berhane also had a solid ride on this tough mountain stage, finishing 38th.