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Team Qhubeka NextHash safely navigate crash-marred Tour de France (TdF) opening stage

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Team Qhubeka NextHash

The opening stage of the Tour de France, a 198km loop around Brittany, was a dramatic affair, but not always for the most positive of reasons.

Team Qhubeka NextHash were part of the early action as Victor Campenaerts and Max Walscheid were the first two riders to attack today. Campenaerts would summit the first category 4 climb of the race, in first place, but the peloton quickly brought back the UCI Hour Record holder.

A break of 6 riders eventually went clear but the peloton kept them close, as the punchy finale suited a number of the pre-race favourites. Drama then struck with 45km to go, as a fan got in the way of the peloton and caused a mass crash at the front of the race.

Fortunately, all Team Qhubeka NextHash riders got through the carnage to continue racing. As the break was caught and the peloton raced toward the finishing climb, another high speed mass-crash occurred with 7km to go. Once again, luck was on our side as all our riders managed to escape without serious injury.

The crashes had obviously shattered the peloton, leaving just 25 riders to contest for stage honours. The World Champion, Alaphilippe, took a brilliant win while Michael Gogl and Sergio Henao were the first riders home for Team Qhubeka NextHash, finishing in the 2nd group on the road.

Our remaining 6 riders, including Le Tour debutants Nicholas Dlamini, Sean Bennett, Carlos Barbero & Campenaerts all managed to finish the stage safely.

Team Qhubeka NextHash wishes a speedy recover to all those injured in today's crashes.

Nicholas Dlamini

I think it was one of the first stages of a race that I've done in a while where there were so many big crashes but I think we can be happy that nobody really was too badly hurt, it could have been worse. The race was everything that we expected, first stage are always like that, with a lot of stress in the bunch.

It was really good to make my debut and the race started pretty fast. Victor was very good on the first climb but from there it didn't really stop, it just carried on for another 15km or so before the race slowed down but you could still sense the tension in the peloton with everyone still nervous. And after the first big crash things got more tense as the speed increased in the final but also the roads didn't get easier with the road furniture.

I think that we can really look forward to the next stage now and take it day by day.

I just want to again thank everyone for the incredible support that they've given to me and the team. It's been incredible, and we will continue to strive to make everyone proud as we continue to change lives with bicycles.

Michael Gogl

It was a really hectic start as usual at the Grande Depart. In the final there was another really big crash and I came through alright but Sergio lost a few positions and wasn't in the right position to contest.

You had to have the legs for that sort of final so I we're not satisfied overall with the day but most importantly we're relatively unscathed and so we look forward to the opportunities to come.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Team Qhubeka NextHash.

Note to Editors:
Rights-free video, audio and image content is available via the following link here https://bit.ly/3A2rP0T.

For further enquiries:
Jean Smyth (Head of Communications)
Email: jean@ryder.co.za
Mobile: +27 63 470 1710 or +31 625 739 033

About Team Qhubeka NextHash:
Team Qhubeka NextHash is a purpose-led, high-performance team, fighting to win on the world's biggest stage, to inspire hope and create opportunity. Founded in 2007, Team Qhubeka NextHash (formerly NTT Pro Cycling) became the first-ever African cycling team to gain a UCI WorldTour license, in 2016.

We achieved our first major win in 2013 when Gerald Ciolek won Milan-San Remo, one of the five Monuments of cycling. We have competed in six Tour de France’s and notched up 7 stage wins, with Mark Cavendish wearing the coveted Yellow Jersey at the 2016 Tour de France.

We are a multicultural, diverse team with bases in South Africa, the Netherlands and Italy. There are 19 nationalities represented across our World Tour and continental feeder team rosters. Our focus on developing African cycling has resulted in more than 55 riders from the African continent be given the opportunity to race on the world stage, since the team's inception.

We race to help people to move forward with bicycles through our relationship with Qhubeka Charity. Through our work with Qhubeka, we have contributed to the distribution of over 30 000 bicycles in communities in South Africa.

About Qhubeka:
Qhubeka is a charity that moves people forward with bicycles.  People earn bicycles through our programmes, improving their access to schools, clinics and jobs.

A bicycle is a tool that helps people to travel faster and further, and to carry more. In the face of extreme and persistent poverty, bicycles can change lives by helping to address socioeconomic challenges at the most basic level – helping people to get where they need to go.

All images attached to the press release can be used with the respective image credit in combination to this release.

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