Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka got the Giro d'Italia off to an excellent start with Omar Fraile winning the first King of the Mountains Blue Jersey of this year’s Giro d'Italia. The stage win went the way of Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quickstep) while Kristian Sbaragli also secured a top 10 stage finish for our African Team.
Racing got underway with our Basque rider, Fraile, jumping into the early break of the day together with Martin Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Giacomo Berlato (Nippo Vini Fantini) from kilometer zero. The 3 riders combined well to build up a maximum lead of 10 minutes over the peloton as the stage made its way from Arnhem to Nijmegen, covering a total of 190km. Giant-Alpecin were the team controlling the pace from the main bunch for their race leader, Tom Dumoulin.
It was a predominantly flat stage but there was a single King of the Mountains prime which came after 155km of racing. It would be an important sprint as the first rider over the 'Berg en Dal' climb would be awarded the first King of the Mountains jersey of this year’s Giro d'Italia. Fraile and his two breakaway mates arrived at the foot of the climb with a lead of 2'40" over the peloton and so it was obvious the winner would come from one of the three. The trio went side by side until about 500m to go where the sprint then opened up, Fraile had little trouble in crossing the line first with a superior sprint, to take the first Mountain points of this year’s race. It would mark yet another incredible day in the history of our African Team, being the first jersey we have worn in our first appearance at the Italian grand tour.
With the jersey secured, Fraile and Tjallingii returned to the peloton with 20km to go and Berlato was reeled in with 10km to go to set up a sprint finale. Our African Team had Kristian Sbaragli right in the mix for the finish, dueling with big name bunch sprinters. FDJ led out the sprint but it was Kittel who easily took the win ahead of Arnaud Demare (FDJ) who placed 2nd. Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida) took 3rd place and our Italian sprinter, Sbaragli, also did a solid sprint to take 8th on the stage, ending off an incredible day for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
Omar Fraile - Rider
It was an objective of the team to get the jersey today. With it being the first day it was possible to be on the podium by going for the jersey and because it is our first Giro, the first time for an African Team here, we really wanted to be on the podium. For me it was a good opportunity to be in the break and in the mountain I was able to do a good sprint to get the jersey. I am really happy to have this jersey now after a really nice day. I really enjoyed the stage, the crowds were great.
Douglas Ryder - Team Principal
It is absolutely fantastic to have taken the jersey. It is our goal to be visible and aggressive and to do as much as we can in the race so for Omar to go out there and do it as was planned this morning, it is just incredible. To talk about something and then to go and do it is exceptional. To have a guy who has just come off winning the King of the Mountains at the Vuelta a Espana, come to the Giro d'Italia and to wear the leaders’ jersey in the King of the Mountains again, it just shows what kind of rider he is and also how committed we are to show our team and put Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka on the world stage.