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With a time of 10.37, the Moroccan national team beat Eritrea and Bretagne into the minor podium spots in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo team time trial; the stage didn't count for the overall classification

Photo: Sirotti

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21.02.2015 @ 01:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Morocco created a big surprise when the 5 riders left from the national team won the team time trial in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo. On the short 8.5km circuit in Port Gentil, they beat Eritrea by 11 seconds while Bretagne was the best professional team in third. Due to the circumstances, the stage doesn't count in the battle for the overall win

 

When smaller teams line up against the professional teams in the very special discipline of team time trialling, they usually get a beating by the squads who do this kind of exercise more regularly. Hence, today’s evening team time trial in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo was expected to be a battle between the three European powerhouses Europcar, Bretagne and Wanty-Group Gobert.

 

When the dust had settled on the 8.5km circuit in Port Gentil, however, it was the Moroccon National Team who stood on the podium as the winner of stage 6 of the biggest African race. Despite being down to just 5 riders and up against several 6-rider teams, they were faster than anybody else, beating Eritrea by 11 seconds while Bretagne were best among the professionals in third.

 

The stage took place on a short, non-technical 8.5km course in Gentil and was completely flat. Taking place in the evening, the event had to be postponed for two hours before Ivory Coast could finally roll down the ramp to kick off the action.

 

The team set a time of 12.22 to take an early lead but it was the local heroes from Gabon who took the early place in the hot seat when they covered the distance in 11.41. Meanwhile, the first European teams Bike Aid and Roth Skoda who had both lost several riders in the first five stages, suffered and lost significant time.

 

Morocco were among the early starters and they proved their strength when they shaved 1.04 off the best mark. They were expected to be beaten by the Bretagne team who were the next to finish but the French Tour de France participants missed the mark by 14 seconds.

 

South Africa had a decent rider to post a time of 11.13 but it was Eritrea who gave the Moroccans a scare. In the end, however, they could only manage 10.48 and so had to settle for second.

 

Cameroun and Algeria both had decent riders with 11.24 and 11.10 respectively before Rwanda powered across the line in the fourth best time, stopping the clock in 10.53. However, all eyes were now on the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team but the Belgian team had a disastrous ride to stop the clock in 13.06.

 

Only two teams were now left on the course and it was expected that Team Europcar would be in the mix. However, the biggest team in the race was also far off the mark and could only manage 11.57.

 

The final team down the ramp was race leader Rafaa Chtioui’s Skydive Dubai team but they were not in the mix either. Stopping the clock in 11.46, they could only manage 9th, meaning that Morocco took a hugely surprising win.

 

Due to the circumstances, the stage didn't count towards the overall classification and so Chtioui defended his overall lead of 2.24 over Giovanni Bernadeau (Europcar). He now just has to survive the final two sprint stages before he can be crowned overall winner of the race. The first of those is tomorrow’s 127km circuit race in Port Gentil that is expected to come down to a big bunch kick.

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