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"Really we could not have asked for a better result. You can see there are big world tour teams behind us and even a team like Sky has only beaten us by 2 seconds."

Photo: Feltet.dk

JAY ROBERT THOMSON

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23.08.2014 @ 22:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

MTN-Qhubeka went into the opening team time trial of the Vuelta a Espana as clear underdogs but did a surprisingly good performance to finish 12th. Sports director Jens Zemke was overjoyed with the result that saw them concede only 2 seconds to Sky.

 

The start of Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung's first ever grand tour could not have gone any better. While Movistar came home fastest to win the stage and Cannondale and Orica-Greenedge were 2nd and 3rd respectively, Team MTN-Qhubeka blitzed home just 29 seconds down in 12th position.


Coming into the race as a wild card, Africa's team were more or less expected to battle it out for the bottom 4 positions. This was not to be the case though. After being the only team to get shuttled to the start by horse and carriage, the Team MTN-Qhubeka riders hit the the course hard and fast.


Their 3 route recce's after the past few days served the team well as they posted the first time of the day. Sitting on the bus watching the race they were expecting their time to tumble. When team after team finished and MTN had a faster time then they did, there was a huge eruption in jubilation.

 

"Stage 1 of the Vuelta Espana is done and dusted," Jay Thomson said. "The team was incredible. We went out of the starting blocks like race horses and we were going really well. Then as the race goes, on a technical course like this you either on the giving end or receiving end and so yeah, a couple of us got spat out the back but it's better to finish with 5 or 6 than to have all 9 riders still. It shows the team went full gas for everything. It was a great day and a great start, Sergio [Pardilla] was at the front so we cant complain."

 

"Really we could not have asked for a better result," Director Sportif Jens Zemke said. "You can see there are big world tour teams behind us and even a team like Sky has only beaten us by 2 seconds. I am very happy with the boys' performance and if you look at the crowds today, I don't think you could have put more people on that course today. So we put on a great show and that is what we came to do.

 

“We can be super happy with the result today, considering where we’re coming from. This project has existed for a couple of years but with this Vuelta, we’re bringing a new continent at the highest level of cycling. We’ve tried to prepare the race very well.

 

"The whole team was strong today. Three guys (Louis Meintjes, Jaco Venter and Jay Thompson) got dropped but after doing an excellent work. We’re absolutely satisfied with our performance. We’ve got super young guys and six of them have never done a Grand Tour before.”

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