Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka performed perfectly to secure a bunch sprint on the opening stage of Tour de Slovénie. After impeccable teamwork, Mark Cavendish ended up taking 10th place in his first race back after suffering from Epstein-Barr Virus.
Early on the stage, nine riders managed to distance the peloton and open up a gap. However, even though the front group worked well together, the pack never allowed the break to get too far away. The gap was kept at around four minutes for the majority of the stage before the teams of the sprinters started to organize the chase.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka always stayed near the front of the peloton, protecting Cavendish and making sure that the stage would end in the expected bunch sprint. With 30 km left to go, the gap was down to just 1:30 minutes and soon after the riders entered the last 10 km, it all came back together again.
Unfortunately, the finish wasn’t drama-free. On the last kilometer, a big crash occurred, which took down Jacques Janse van Rensburg. Not taking any chances in his first race in three months, Cavendish still did well to secure tenth place as Sam Bennett (BORA – hansgrohe) sprinted to victory. Janse van Rensburg was taken to hospital, where the former South African champion will undergo further examinations. An update on his injuries will be given when more information is available.
“This was definitely a tough day for all of us, especially for Cavendish and Renshaw after coming back from injuries. I think we did a good team effort. Unfortunately, we lost each other a little bit with 5 km to go. I blame myself as I went too early, which caused Cavendish and Renshaw to make a big effort in order to get back up to us. They came around the last corner in 10th-12th position and that was just too far down to win. However, there is still another chance for a sprint stage and it was really good to see Cavendish motivated and ready to sprint. Let’s see what the next days will bring”.