The first big summit finish of this year’s Vuelta a Espana turned out to be an exciting race and a terrific day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. After a big battle to find the break of the day, Omar Fraile, our Basque climber was able to infiltrate the 16 rider lead group that went clear after 70km's of racing. Movistar and Etixx-Quickstep kept close tabs on the breakaway, but the gap was still able to reach the 5’30” mark. While the 12.2km Lavos da Covadonga was the big finishing climb of the day, riders would also have to deal with the 6km category 1 Alto de Fito at 42km to go. When the big lead group began the first climb, the peloton was just 3’20” back but Fraile had one immediate target, and that was to take maximum King of the Mountain points at the summit. Fraile attacked the group just inside of a kilometre from the top and Luis Angel Mate followed our Basque climber. A 2nd effort just before the line saw Fraile secure the 10 points on offer at the top. Fraile and Mate began the descent together as the chasers started to pull back the 25” gap the leading duo had opened up at the top of the climb. It was only in the valley between the two big climbs where Fraile and Mate were brought back into the fold. Once the break was all back together though, the cohesion ended as a number of riders started to skip turns. This resulted in the peloton bringing the gap down to just 2’30” by the time Fraile and co. reached the foot of the Covadonga. A few early accelerations from the break saw Fraile dropped and it was thought, this was the end of his day. Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) and Gesink were the two riders who then led the way up the climb from the break but the peloton, being led by Movistar, was closing in fast. With 6km to go the attacks from the favourites group came as Quintana and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) surged ahead of the rest. Their acceleration brought them up to the wheel of Fraile who then latched on to the wheels of the two favourites as Gesink now led the race alone, 45” up the road. Incredibly, Fraile was able to hold the wheel of Quintana and Contador as they went on to catch and pass the majority of the breakaway that had left Fraile behind at the start of the climb. Quintana then attacked Contador and Fraile with 3km to go and this was just as Froome came back into contention from behind. There was no catching Quintana though, he went past Gesink who was snapped up by Froome & Fraile in the final kilometres as well. Fraile crossed the line in 4th place, a great result in its own right but his efforts today also saw him take the lead in King of the Mountains competition.
The break took a really long time to go away today. For 70km it was just attack after attack, it was very fast and a difficult start. When we finally went away it was easier and then in the final I had a good feeling. I knew my form was good so I was just being patient and riding a good rhythm. When the favourites came, it was possible to hold their wheel. I am really happy with this ride as I could move into the climber’s jersey which was the goal I had for the day. The jersey gives me good motivation which I will take into the next stages.
Omar Fraile – Rider
For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka it would not be the best of days as our African Team lost Omar Fraile (pictured below), when the Basque rider had to abandon after 100km's of today's stage. Fraile crashed heavily during yesterday's stage but was still able to finish. Overnight though, the young climber picked up a fever and was not able to keep any fluid down. He started today's stage with the hope of nursing through to the finish but a really fast start meant this would not be possible and unfortunately he had no choice but to stop at the feedzone. The stage went on though and it was 4 riders who animated the 230km stage today by making the break of the day. While the stage was by no means flat, the sprinters teams were intent on bringing the race back together for a bunch sprint. This scenario would eventually materialize as with 10km to go, the race was all together. Once again our African Team was focused on delivering Kristian Sbaragli to the sprint as the final 1.5km suited our young Italian, being a slightly uphill pave surface. Sbaragli was well positioned going onto the pave but with no team really taking control of the leadout there was a slight lull in the pace which saw a number of riders swamp to the front before a left hand turn with 1km to go. Sbaragli was boxed in, lost position quickly and then there was also a crash in the corner. The sprint then opened up and Sbaragli found himself having to come from around position 20 when before the final corner he was 8th wheel. In the end our Italian had to settle for 11th place on the stage.
We have to start with the bad news of the day, Omar stopped today. He had a bad night after he crashed yesterday. He threw up a couple of times in the evening and a couple of times during the race. He was feeling dizzy and had a headache, he really wasn't feeling well and you could see he was completely empty so he stopped in the feedzone. It's always a bad thing when you lose a rider in a grand tour, and more so when it is early on so we are sad to see him go. Then we went for Kristian in the sprint. He had a good position but was in the middle of the road. Some riders went past him on the left and others on the right, then he was too far back before the last corner. There was also a crash which he was behind, it didn't help the situation so it wasn't the result we were expecting from today.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx - Sport Director
The final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire started with a 7-rider break going clear early on. The peloton allowed the gap to grow to 4-minutes with Bernhard Eisel, our African Team captain, controlling affairs from the main group together with our young Australian, Ben O'Connor. Kristian Sbaragli was tasked with looking after our two leaders for the day, Fraile and Pauwels. Eisel seemed to have an endless supply of energy as he rode on the front right up until 25km to go, pulling off just as the early break of the day was caught. Scott Thwaites then took over, using his local knowledge to drive the peloton into the first of four climbs. After Thwaites led all the way up the Cote de Deepcar climb, the peloton had shattered to contain only 45 riders. Jacques Janse van Rensburg, O'Connor, Fraile and Pauwels had all benefited from Thwaites strong pull. Janse van Rensburg then showed his fine form and attacked twice on the Cote de Wigtwizzle to further split the group. Coming into the penultimate climb of the race, our South African put in one last effort and provided a springboard for Pauwels to launch an attack. Over the summit and Pauwels had 30 seconds on the now 8 rider chase group, but Fraile was marking their every move. BMC Racing pegged the gap back down to just 10 seconds but they were not able to reach our Belgian before the top of the final climb, which peaked with 6km to go. As riders then tried one by one, to jump across to Pauwels, Fraile followed everything until the chasers had nothing left to give. Our Basque rider then saw his opportunity to bridge across to Pauwels which he did with an incredible acceleration. Our 2 African Team riders then rode the final kilometer together, in front of the massive Yorkshire crowd, to complete a fantastic team effort. 1st and 2nd on the stage also placed Pauwels and Fraile 1st and 2nd in the overall classification while Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka unsurprisingly, won the team's classification as well.
The team was incredibly good today. The guys looked after us so well and controlled the race all day, it was then up to Omar and myself to be up there in the final. I had to pick my moment carefully and then when I went, Omar and Jacques did a fantastic job behind me. Omar then came across to me in the final kilometer. He has been a fantastic roommate to me this week and he is great guy. Basically, he gave me the victory today which makes him a great person. I didn't know at the time how much work he was doing for me because when I got the gap my sports director, Roger Hammond, told me I was not allowed to look behind me one more time. So, for the last 10km I pretty much did a time trial and only in the last kilometer I saw an ENVE wheel next to me, so I thought they had all caught me but it was only Omar. I have always wanted to win a race and now I have won two at the same but really, this is a team victory.
Serge Pauwels - Rider
Racing got underway with our Basque rider, Fraile, jumping into the early break of the day together with Martin Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Giacomo Berlato (Nippo Vini Fantini) from kilometer zero. The 3 riders combined well to build up a maximum lead of 10 minutes over the peloton as the stage made its way from Arnhem to Nijmegen, covering a total of 190km. Giant-Alpecin were the team controlling the pace from the main bunch for their race leader, Tom Dumoulin. It was a predominantly flat stage but there was a single King of the Mountains prime which came after 155km of racing. It would be an important sprint as the first rider over the 'Berg en Dal' climb would be awarded the first King of the Mountains jersey of this year’s Giro d'Italia. Fraile and his two breakaway mates arrived at the foot of the climb with a lead of 2'40" over the peloton and so it was obvious the winner would come from one of the three. The trio went side by side until about 500m to go where the sprint then opened up, Fraile had little trouble in crossing the line first with a superior sprint, to take the first Mountain points of this year’s race. It would mark yet another incredible day in the history of our African Team, being the first jersey we have worn in our first appearance at the Italian grand tour. With the jersey secured, Fraile and Tjallingii returned to the peloton with 20km to go and Berlato was reeled in with 10km to go to set up a sprint finale. Our African Team had Kristian Sbaragli right in the mix for the finish, dueling with big name bunch sprinters. FDJ led out the sprint but it was Kittel who easily took the win ahead of Arnaud Demare (FDJ) who placed 2nd. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) took 3rd place and our Italian sprinter, Sbaragli, also did a solid sprint to take 8th on the stage, ending off an incredible day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
It was an objective of the team to get the jersey today. With it being the first day it was possible to be on the podium by going for the jersey and because it is our first Giro, the first time for an African Team here, we really wanted to be on the podium. For me it was a good opportunity to be in the break and in the mountain I was able to do a good sprint to get the jersey. I am really happy to have this jersey now after a really nice day. I really enjoyed the stage, the crowds were great.
Omar Fraile - Rider
It is absolutely fantastic to have taken the jersey. It is our goal to be visible and aggressive and to do as much as we can in the race so for Omar to go out there and do it as was planned this morning, it is just incredible. To talk about something and then to go and do it is exceptional. To have a guy who has just come off winning the King of the Mountains at the Vuelta a Espana, come to the Giro d'Italia and to wear the leaders’ jersey in the King of the Mountains again, it just shows what kind of rider he is and also how committed we are to show our team and put Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka on the world stage.
Douglas Ryder - Team Principal
With riders standing on the start-line in the pouring rain and temperatures not much more than a few degrees above zero, it was always going to be a really tough race. 2 riders broke away early on, who were then later joined by a third escapee. In the treacherous conditions though, their gap pretty much remained at 30 seconds for most of the day. Lampre-Merida did most of the control work from the peloton before they decided to become active on the 2nd last lap of 34km's. Bardiani and our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders were the two teams who would respond to the moves of Lampre. The break was quickly caught when the attacking started and a new dangerous 5 rider move went clear with 1.5 laps to go. Our Basque rider, Omar Fraile was part of the attack which also included Ulissi, Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) and Damiano Cunego (Nippo). The 5 aggressors rode away to a 30 second lead before eventually being caught at the foot of the final 2 climbs of the day. There were then numerous attacks over these last 2 climbs which came with just 14km to go before the final descent to the line. Ulissi, Colbrelli and Pantano got away on the final climb and Fraile and Anton were part of a select chase group just behind the leading trio. As the leaders descended onto the finishing straight, the chasers just about made contact and then the sprint opened up. With a few meters head start on the rest, Cobrelli took the win. Fraile and Anton did well to show they were two of the strongest riders on the day by finishing 7th and 9th respectively.
It was a very hard day, raining and only 3 degrees Celsius all day. My sensations weren't too good in the cold but in the end I had some strength to make the important selections. In the final sprint I had nothing left to give, the cold had taken everything from me. I can feel I am close to where I need to be.
Omar Fraile - Rider
The day started off with Jay Thomson waking up ill, and so unfortunately he could not take the start. With Jay set to ride Paris-Nice in the coming weeks it was not worth the risk. The plan for the race was to ride for Omar and Natnael Berhane and then also to see how Kristian Sbaragli was going. The main racing started when Ulissi attacked with 2 laps to go. Omar rode across with a few other guys. Androni then pulled it back together. Omar and Igor then went away again on the last lap, with the same group of guys and it was clear they were strongest group on the day. Kristian was really good today and he almost made it back to the select group, on a normal day without weather like this it would have been a different race. In all, it was a good tough race for the boys and we can be happy with the way we rode.
Oli Cookson - Sport Director
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka again put its cards on the table early on with Omar Fraile jumping into the break of the day that formed just after kilometer zero was passed. Omar was joined by Luis Mas Bonet (Caja-Rural) and Imanol Estevez (Euskadi) for the day and the trio enjoyed a 7 minute lead at one point. With two of the fastest men in the bunch, and a flat circuit finish that suited the sprinters, Lotto-Soudal and Bora Argon 18 took up the chase from the peloton. The break was always doomed from the onset but Omar's efforts weren't in vain as he won the King of the Mountains prize for the day. The trio were caught with 30km left to race and on the circuit, no attackers were going to be allowed to get away. Our African Team turned to Youcef Reguigui who would give the sprint finale a good go. Lotto-Soudal proved to have the strongest leadout today as they were able to deliver Greipel to a good spot from where he could take the win. Youcef was up there in the thick of things thanks to a great team effort, and sprinted across the line to 7th place for our African Team.
Omar got into the break with 2 other guys so that allowed us to ride easy in the peloton. There was a bit of stress on the only climb of the race with a small split. I just followed the wheels of my teammates and they kept me in a great position. I got to the final lap still in the wheel of Jay and Bernie. There were a few close calls with some guys riding into Jay but he did great to keep me in a good position. In the final kilometer Bernie brought me to the wheel of Bennett and Greipel. There was some stress for me in the final 400m with riders coming across me but I finished 7th. My condition is such that I was able to do a better result than I did today. I hope I can race more with Bernie because his experience is incredible and I can definitely get better results by learning from him.
Youcef Reguigui - Rider
The final day of the Mallorca Challenge came down to a bunch sprint in Palma, Mallorca. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) was once again the fastest, with Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) 2nd and Dylan Page (Team Roth) taking 3rd spot. Click here to view the article
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will get its European racing season off the ground at the Challenge Mallorca. The 4 UCI 1.1 races start with the first event on Thursday 28th January and the final race on Sunday the 31st. Click here to view the article
The Challenge Mallorca, as is traditionally the case, will be incorporated into a team training camp that began on the 25 January already. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will have a total of 13 riders to select from over the course of the week. Igor Anton, Natnael Berhane, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Matt Brammeier, Bernhard Eisel, Omar Fraile, Merhawi Kudus, Serge Pauwels, Youcef Reguigui, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl will be part of the Mallorca Challenge race group. Race rosters will be finalised on the evening before each event. The first and final race of the Mallorca Challenge are events that will suit the fast guys, with possible sprint finish finale's. The 2nd and 3rd events are the races which will certainly suit the climbers. One might remember Steve Cumming's getting our 2015 season off to a winning start by taking the victory at the 2nd Mallorca Challenge race last year.
Challenge Mallorca will be my first race in my new colours of Dimension Data for Qhubeka. It is good to finally start the year and it is always exciting because riders have changed teams and there are some new colours in the peloton. This year I am really motivated and eager to start the season. The parcours in the Mallorca races will be difficult on the 2nd and 3rd day but the 1st and final day the race will be more open with opportunities for all.
Omar Fraile - Rider
Challenge Mallorca is the first race for almost all the riders in Europe and for me it will be particularly important because I am able to continue my career in the professional ranks with a World Tour team. It will also be a new experience with a very different but special team for me. Challenge Mallorca is the best way to start a new season. At these races we are able to improve our condition in good weather and do some quality workouts. I am really grateful to have this opportunity and am motivated for these first races in Mallorca.
Igor Anton - Rider
Norwegian national road race champion Edvald Boasson Hagen will remain with the South African team, as will Steve Cummings, Tyler Farrar, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus, and Serge Pauwels. The eight have been part of the successful Tour de France team in July. They will be joined by the likes of La Vuelta stage winner Kristian Sbaragli and Eritrean national road race champion Natnael Berhane among others. Australian Nathan Haas was the first new rider to sign a contract for our South African registered team. Over the last four years the 26-year-old has been riding for Cannondale-Garmin, with two wins at the iconic Japan Cup being his major results. He also showed strong performances in shorter stage races. He will be a valuable rider when races come down to small bunch sprints. Spaniard Omar Fraile makes the move from Caja Rural-Seguros RGA. He comes off a strong season that saw him taking wins at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque and the Giro dell’Appennino. He also managed to climb onto the final podium of the Vuelta a Espana in Madrid as winner of the King of the Mountain classification. The 25-year-old will be a strong addition to the teams climbing group.
I’m incredibly excited to join the team because I feel it on the most inherent level represents the true Global and Worldwide reach that professional cycling is moving in. Not only does the team compete at the highest level of the sport, it translate our love of sport across all aspects of cycling, weighing equal importance on the bike as a necessity of transport, environment, and sport. The team has shown to be a team that races – and truly races, not rides – at every event they participate in, and they do so with their hearts and pride on their sleeves. I’m proud of the opportunity to get to be a part of this team, and hopefully create opportunities for my teammates and myself that further demonstrate that racing from the hearts can win the hearts of the world. And to be back with Tyler, what can I say, he’s one of my best friends in the sport and I’ve missed racing with him. So to be back together is just huge! He’s a great captain and moral booster for any team so we are all lucky to be riding with him.
Nathan Haas – Rider
I am very excited to get the chance to ride for such a well-established and international team. I have had a great year and I only can thank my current team, Yet, for my development as a rider I feel like it’s time to move on. This team will help me stepping up. I will do my best to live up to the team’s expectations. It would be great to get some good results in stage races and On the personal side, I want to achieve good results in stage races and help to put more children in rural areas in Africa on bikes through my performances.
Omar Fraile – Rider
Nathan is just the type of rider this team is all about. Great personality and willing to race aggressively. This type of visibility in races is very important to our #BicyclesChangeLives campaign. I think his style of racing will compliment another couple of our team riders and elevate them to more success together. Going into La Vuelta I thought we should look out for Omar Fraile. It did not take long for Omar to shine as he obtained the King of the Mountains jersey after stage 3 and kept it all the way to the end. Having met Omar in Andorra during La Vuelta I could see a young talented rider with a great passion to succeed. We look forward to developing his talent even further and look forward to integrating Omar into our climbing group.
Brian Smith – General Manager
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, which is set to race as Team Dimension Data next season, is happy to announce the addition of two new riders; Nathan Haas and Omar Fraile. Moreover, the team will keep its core line-up. Click here to view the article