Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will return to the Coppi e Bartali, a race our World Tour team last competed in back in 2015 when Louis Meintjes won the overall title for our African Team. The UCI 2.1 event gets underway tomorrow and once again will see 5 stages of racing over the coming 4 days.
The trademark double day of racing at the Coppi e Bartali will kick off the 2017 edition of the race, with a 98km road stage in the morning followed by the unique 13km team time trial of 4 riders each in the afternoon. The 4 road stages will provide the sprinters and climbers with 2 opportunities each. Stage 1a & 3 geared toward the fast men and stage 2 & 4 suiting the climbers.
Even though there is no summit finish on the climbing days, Merhawi Kudus will still be our rider targeting a high overall GC place. Our young Eritrean has had a great start to his 2017 season and will look to keep the momentum going with a podium result at Coppi e Bartali. For the sprint stages, Ryan Gibbons, our recent Tour de Langkawi winner will get his chance to lead the team once again.
Backing our young African riders at the Coppi e Bartali is a strong and experienced squad captained by Serge Pauwels with Igor Anton, Omar Fraile, Adrien Niyonshuti, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Jaco Venter providing support. It is a welcomed return to racing for Venter after illness kept him out of racing since the Tour Down Under. The Coppi e Bartali is also Janse van Rensburg’s first race back since his concussion sustained in a crash at Paris-Nice.
Oliver Cookson – Sport Director
We are really looking forward to Coppi Bartali, we have a very strong team even with a last-minute change. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg comes in after his Paris-Nice crash and we are glad to have him back. The main goals for Coppi Bartali are to look at the sprints with Ryan, following his first pro win in Langkawi, and then also the overall with Merhawi who will target the GC after his very good Spring. We have some very strong riders around these two so we’ll just take each stage one at a time. Obviously, the team time trial is quite complex being split into two teams of four and there are quite a few strong riders here, so we will adapt our approach to the race accordingly.