With the first week of the 100th Tour de France done and dusted we can look back at the performance of some of the Africans in the race and their achievements.
On day 1, on the island of Corsica Orica GreenEdge must have been unsure of their riders’ performance in the tour,so in order to gain some much need publicity they got their team bus stuck under the finish banner.What a way to make the news headlines?
They did not have to wait much longer to be in the headlines again with the South African Daryl Impey giving a great lead out in the final sprint for team-mate Simon Gerrans to win stage 3 into Calvi ahead of Cannondales’ Peter Sagan.
The next day was a team time trial and once again the South African buried himself for the team and was rewarded with his 1st stage win in the Tour de France becoming only the 2nd South African to achieve this after Robert Hunter in 2007. By beating the world champions’ time trial team of Omega Pharma-Quick Step ,Simon Gerrans found himself in the yellow tour leaders’ jersey on the same combined time as Daryl Impey.
Gerrans held onto the yellow jersey until the finish in Montpellier where he gave Daryl a lead out which enabled Daryl to become the 1st South African and African rider to don the leader’s yellow jersey ahead of the more fancied Kenyan born Chris Froome.Montpellier is a good finishing town for South African cyclists as it was in the same town in 2007 that Robert Hunter won his 1st stage of the Tour de France whilst riding for the Barloworld team.
On the 1st big mountain stage in the Pyrenees we saw Team Sky dominate the race putting Chris Froome into the yellow jersey so resulting in 1 African rider handing the jersey over to another African rider.Chris Froome and his Team Sky team-mates looked like being totally in control of the race , but this is cycling and things can change quickly. This was clear for all to see on the next stage when Froome was left isolated by his team-mates and had to cover numerous attacks made by the Movistar team, however ,he did this without showing any panic and the biggest losers on the day must have been the overall contenders of Valverde and Contador. With Froome on the ropes and looking ready for the k/o blow they sat back.
It’s still a long way to go to the finish but they could all rue the missed opportunity of doing further damage to the Sky Team’s team leader.The stage was won by Dan Martin of the Garmin-Sharp team who managed to win from a 2 man breakaway and hold of the charging bunch at the finish.Could this be part of the chaos that the team boss Vaughters spoke about before the start of the tour? Dan Martin is the same rider who in 2007 whilst riding for an amateur team in France found himself with Daryl Impey at the finish in Montpellier to witness Robert Hunters historic win.
Stage 5 saw Mark Cavendish open his account of stage wins at this year’s event to take win number 24 , whilst many may ask where or what this has to do with African’s , Cavendish’s personal mechanic during his time at Team Sky goes by the name of Gary Blem who now looks after Froome’s racing bike and who is another one of our Zulu’s on the stoep of the Tour de France.