By Alula Abraha,
WITH five categorised climbs on 161km route today at the Critérium du Dauphiné 2015, it was important for the Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot to get into the break to protect his polka dot jersey.
Daniel (MTN-Qhubeka) therefore, went on an early attack after just 4km of racing, taking 6 other riders with him to form the break of the day and heading off in search of mountains classification points in store.
In doing so, he extend his lead in the KOM competition again today and keeps his polka dot jersey while leading the general climber’s classification with 33 points.
Until the TTT in the 3rd stage, his team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were doing good in 8th position out of 21 experienced World Tour teams in the team classifications, with only a few seconds of added bonus time awarded for top three stage finishers splitting between them and the top teams.
In the team classification, only finishing times of 3 top finishers of each team is considered but since the dismal TTT performance by MTN-Qhubeka in the 3rd stage last Tuesday, they had slipped down from 8th to 15th position.
As the most experienced TTT rider with five continental championship in a bag, Daniel usually carries his team home with good results but this time, as KoM jersey was at stake, the strategy seemed for Daniel to take it easy after having been in the breakaway for the previous two stages.
MTN-Qhubeka now looks focused on a strategy for Daniel in the KoM jersey and his teammate, Edvald for the green jersey in the other important points-classification.
Esvald of Norway is a new rider that was signed with Natnael starting from the 2015 season. So far, Esvald is doing great and solid, finishing 3rd once and 4th twice and standing 2nd in the points classification with 56 points, breathing down the neck hunting for the green jersey held by top sprinter and former French National road champion, Nacer Bouhanni(64 points). Nacer of Algerian decent is, right now, the best French sprinter ever. He is expected to win multiple stages in the tour de France next month.
However, since Bouhanni is particularly poor in climbing, he won’t be able to hold on his green jersey for long and he will have to kiss it goodbye from today onwards simply because the remaining four stages have more climbing and all involve summit finishes as opposed to a flat course he usually fancies.
Provided that Bouhanni most probably finishing way behind in the 5th round summit finish later today, Esvald of MTN-Qhubeka only needed to finish at least in 8th place so as to be able to leap frog Bouhanni and snatch the Green jersey for a record second World Tour jersey for MTN. And provided that Daniel successfully defends his Jersey today, there is a great historical chance for MTN to see two of its riders on the podium for the first time in World Tour.
As king of the mountains so far, Daniel will have to be in his best shape for the rest of the race both to defend his polka-dot jersey and extend his lead.
All the best to Daniel, Esvald and team MTN Qhubeka.
— Critérium du Dauphiné (@dauphine) June 11, 2015