Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did well on Saturday’s queen stage with Omar Fraile in the early breakaway and Natnael Berhane (photo) hanging on to the group of favorites on the final climb.
On paper, it was expected that the GC riders would end up fighting for the stage win today. However, that didn’t scare off Fraile, who attacked early on the stage to be part of a five-man breakaway. The group quickly established a gap of four minutes on the peloton but the gap never got much bigger than that. The teams of the overall favorites didn’t want the stage win to get out of reach and as the riders took on the final penultimate climb of the day, Fraile and most of his breakaway companions were caught by the chasing peloton. Here, Berhane showed great legs staying with the top favorites over the top.
Despite being part of multiple breakaways during the past week, our 26-year-old Eritrean climber also managed to hang on to the group on the first part of Col de la Couillole, today’s final ascent.
It was only when the yellow jersey, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step Floors), got dropped that Berhane too lost terrain. However, he continued to fight exemplarily and crossed the line in 29th place. Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) won after a solo attack on the last three kilometers, while Sergio Henao (Team Sky) took over the race lead before tomorrow’s final stage of Paris-Nice.