Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s opening week at the Tour de France has been struck a major blow with the news that star sprinter Mark Cavendish has been forced to abandon the race.
Cavendish broke his shoulder in the sprint for the line in Vittel in a crash that saw World Champion Peter Sagan disqualified from the race by the organisers.
A special spin-off series of the Power of Sport podcast brings you exclusive insights from the team in the Tour de France Voicenote – a weekly update from the Laureus Ambassadors – culminating in the final week on the road and the final stage in Paris.
For team principal Doug Ryder, the loss of Cavendish left them deflated.
“The coming together of Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan was terrible; terrible for us and terrible for the race.
“If you look at that sprint, it was pretty dangerous sprint, the guys were all over the place and nobody was really holding a sprinting line. Mark was on the outside coming through and the drifting that the riders did and the barrier (was) coming closer and closer, it was just a terrible end to a stage finish that was pretty exciting.”
But despite the team’s setback the support it’s received from fans along the route, some who clearly know the team’s Kuba Kuba anthem, and for the Qhubeka charity has been insprational.
“It’s amazing when you come to a race like the Tour de France and you see how many people around the world love this team because of what it races for. The Qhubeka charity is close to all our hearts and it’s something that should be close to every South African’s heart.
“When you see the people that love this team and come and see it, wear the bracelets and the t-shirts and come and look and see our new Qhubeka bicycle that’s painted in the leaders jerseys of the Tour de France, it’s pretty beautiful, it’s a talking point.”
Without Cavendish the team will have to refocus as Ryder says they’ll target stage wins in other ways. He says that the defending champion again looks like the man to beat.
“Chris Froome, is looking fantastic and Team Sky are looking fantastic, they had an incredible opening time trail.
“We wish Chris the best, he’s looking really, really good. Let’s hope for another great victory for a great rider who has a huge passion for South Africa and loves spending time there. That would be pretty brilliant.
“And we hope that we will have some chances in the stages coming up that we can do something that would make people proud.”
You can listen to the full episode here: Full Episode
To download the team’s anthem, Kuba Kuba, do so here: Kuba Kuba on iTunes