Eritrean rider closes out his time with Dimension Data in final race of the season at Tour of Guangxi
BY CYCLING NEWS
Daniel Teklehaimanot, the first Eritrean to race the Tour de France, will bring down the curtain on his Dimension Data career when the Tour of Guangxi concludes Wednesday.
“It is my last race with the team. I am looking for other teams. It is October now. It is difficult to organise the situation,” Teklehaimanot told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 3 of the Tour of Guangxi.
The 28-year-old joined the South African team in 2014 after two seasons at Orica-GreenEdge. He started his career at the World Cycling Centre, later riding for the Continental Amore and Vita-McDonalds squad and then as a stagiaire for the Cervelo Test Team in 2010 before turning pro with Orica.
After making his Grand Tour debut at the 2012 Vuelta a España, Teklehaimanot returned to the Spanish race in 2014 and then made his Tour de France debut in 2015. He wore the king of the mountains jersey in the first week of the race before returning to the French Grand Tour the following year and then making his Giro d’Italia debut in May of 2017.
He also wore the climber’s jersey at the Giro, adding another chapter to the history of Eritrean and African cycling.
“My form was not too bad at the beginning of the season. I had the Giro then nationals, [Tour of] Austria, and then didn’t race for like three months,” Teklehaimanot said of his 2017 season.
“I crashed in the last stage of Austria and broke my finger. It was a really bad situation for me. At that moment, I was really motivated again for the Vuelta but this happened with the finger.”
Despite the broken finger, for which Teklehaimanot recently had surgery to remove a metal splint, he was still able to finish in seventh place overall at Austria – the best European GC result of his career.
Although Teklehaimanot finds himself in the tricky situation of securing his future at WorldTour level in late October, he leaves on good terms with the team which has grown into one of the top squads in the peloton.
“The team is really great. Four years of course with the team. When it was MTN it was another team and now it has completely changed into one of the big WorldTour teams,” said the three-time national road race champion.
“I am really grateful to the team and I had a great programme for four years. I was really engaged, especially when I was part of the Tour de France team for two years and other Grand Tours.”
Before Teklehaimanot closes the Dimension Data chapter of his career and farewells his teammates, he is hoping to help compatriot Mekseb Debesay to a top result in China – a rider he describes as “great, explosive” and capable of contending in the uphill finale to stage 4.