The amazing start to the season for Team MTN-Qhubeka continued on Friday when Tsgabu Grmay won stage 5 of the Tour de Taiwan.
This is a landmark result as it’s the Ethiopian’s first professional victory and the first ever win for Ethiopia in professional cycling.
“This is really great, I am so happy not just for me but also for African cycling and for Ethiopia,” Grmay said after stepping down from the podium. “This is my first professional victory and I am really happy. The last 30km was up and down and the race was fast. I attacked with 5km to go and they caught me then I attacked again with 3km to go and no one responded and I rode to the line alone.
“The team was really looking good today. We were looking to Louis [Meintjes] or me to attack on the last climb. Dennis [van Niekerk] was in the breakaway, which was the perfect situation for us. The team has just been amazing.”
The day saw a perfect display of teamwork from Team MTN-Qhubeka. Van Niekerk spent the day in the break with two other riders which meant the rest of the team did not have to take responsibility in the peloton. Once he was caught, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Meintjes controlled Grmay’s attacks on the climb which allowed him to ride away.
The result sees Grmay move to second overall. Meintjes who started the day in second place is now fourth on the general classification which gives Team MTN-Qhubeka options with two stages left.
Team princiapl, Douglas Ryder commented on the victory saying, “I am just so happy and amazed that all we have been working on the last few years is coming together now. The work we started 5 years ago with the World Cycling Centre Africa run by JP van Zyl in sourcing the best talent across the African continent resulting in the first Ethiopian, Tsgabu, winning his first professional race today and the first for Ethiopia. This follows the incredible victory by Gerald [Ciolek] in Milan Sanremo on Sunday, a rider we chose to mentor and lead our team in the classics.
“Songezo Jim performed so well too in Milan Sanremo becoming the first South African rider of colour to ride in a WorldTour event. This shows the potential of the African continent and more riders are coming through our WCC Africa feeder team and Qhubeka Academy team. Our sponsors believed in this project years ago and what an impact it is making in world cycling today.”
Team MTN-Qhubeka also moved up to second overall in the team classification. Stage 6 will see the race take place over 131km in New Taipei City.
TEAM MTN-QHUBEKA STAGE 5 RESULTS
1 Tsgabu Grmay (ETH) MTN Qhubeka 2:59:35
14 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:00:10
32 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:00:10
43 Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:00:40
57 Johann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:01:24
2 Tsgabu Grmay (ETH) MTN Qhubeka 0:00:27
4 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:00:28
51 Johann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:05:49
53 Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:07:03
70 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN Qhubeka 0:12:13