Serge Pauwels won the final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire with teammate Omar Fraile securing 2nd, after what was a brilliant display of teamwork by Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka today. With the final stage results, our African Team also secured 1st and 2nd overall at the Tour de Yorkshire.
The final stage of the Tour de Yorkshire started with a 7-rider break going clear early on. The peloton allowed the gap to grow to 4-minutes with Bernhard Eisel, our African Team captain, controlling affairs from the main group together with our young Australian, Ben O’Connor. Kristian Sbaragli was tasked with looking after our two leaders for the day, Fraile and Pauwels.
Eisel seemed to have an endless supply of energy as he rode on the front right up until 25km to go, pulling off just as the early break of the day was caught. Scott Thwaites then took over, using his local knowledge to drive the peloton into the first of four climbs. After Thwaites led all the way up the Cote de Deepcar climb, the peloton had shattered to contain only 45 riders. Jacques Janse van Rensburg, O’Connor, Fraile and Pauwels had all benefited from Thwaites strong pull.
Janse van Rensburg then showed his fine form and attacked twice on the Cote de Wigtwizzle to further split the group. Coming into the penultimate climb of the race, our South African put in one last effort and provided a springboard for Pauwels to launch an attack. Over the summit and Pauwels had 30 seconds on the now 8 rider chase group, but Fraile was marking their every move.
BMC Racing pegged the gap back down to just 10 seconds but they were not able to reach our Belgian before the top of the final climb, which peaked with 6km to go. As riders then tried one by one, to jump across to Pauwels, Fraile followed everything until the chasers had nothing left to give. Our Basque rider then saw his opportunity to bridge across to Pauwels which he did with an incredible acceleration.
Our 2 African Team riders then rode the final kilometer together, in front of the massive Yorkshire crowd, to complete a fantastic team effort. 1st and 2nd on the stage also placed Pauwels and Fraile 1st and 2nd in the overall classification while Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka unsurprisingly, won the team’s classification as well.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
The team was incredibly good today. The guys looked after us so well and controlled the race all day, it was then up to Omar and myself to be up there in the final. I had to pick my moment carefully and then when I went, Omar and Jacques did a fantastic job behind me. Omar then came across to me in the final kilometer. He has been a fantastic roommate to me this week and he is great guy. Basically, he gave me the victory today which makes him a great person. I didn’t know at the time how much work he was doing for me because when I got the gap my sports director, Roger Hammond, told me I was not allowed to look behind me one more time. So, for the last 10km I pretty much did a time trial and only in the last kilometer I saw an ENVE wheel next to me, so I thought they had all caught me but it was only Omar. I have always wanted to win a race and now I have won two at the same but really, this is a team victory.