Eritrean Metkel Eyob Wins TRAC N4 Under 23 Tour

Metkel Eyob emerged champion of the prestigious 4-day event of Trace N4 Competition
Metkel Eyob emerged champion of the prestigious 4-day event of Trace N4 Competition

By MTN-Qhubeka,

With Metkel Eyob having won the first stage of the TRAC N4 Under 23 Tour and consolidating his lead in Stage 2, an epic battle would ensue between the World Cycling Centre Africa MTN Qhubeka Feeder Team and Team Europcar SA over the yellow jersey during the remainder of the race.

Europcar’s Ryan Gibbons won Stage 3A and took a 10 second time bonus, this saw him moving into the overall lead by a mere one second before a crucial 17 km Time Trial in Stage 2B. Meron Teshome, Eslam Zaki and Metkel Eyob finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively in the criterium. 

Not known as a time triallist and with this discipline being a weakness he’s been working on improving, the Eritrean climber, Eyob Metkel pulled off an excellent performance to finish 3rd in the Time Trial only 40 seconds behind Gibbons. Nic Dougall of the World Cycling Centre Africa MTN Qhubeka Feeder won the time trial.

The fourth and final stage over 96km saw riders tackle the climb of Kaapschehoop, which took them from an altitude of 600m all the way up to 1600m in the first 30km. Even though the climb would suit Metkel, it would be a hard battle to regain the 41 second deficit to Gibbons on the final 60km of the stage as this was mostly flat or downhill.

At km zero, Meron Teshome, who was in 3rd overall attacked with two Abantu riders in tow and gained in excess of a minute. This placed pressure on Team Europcar who was forced to control the pace in the peloton. Teshome was then joined by team mate Costa Seibeb, which placed further pressure on Europcar who were doing a good job of controlling the race.

At around the 25km mark, attacks from MTN’s Drobisch and then Metkel shattered the peloton and allowed Metkel a small lead and the opportunity to take all the remaining King of the Mountain primes. By the top of Kaapschehoop, the chasing group was whittled down to MTN’s Seibeb, Drobisch and Dougall, Byukusenge of the World Cycling Centre Africa, Westvaal BMC’s Patten and, Gibbons and Fourie of Europcar SA.

After Metkel was caught, the Feeder Team used their numbers to launch numerous attacks and eventually got a group clear with Dougall, Byukusenge and Patten. With about 30km remaining Metkel and Seibeb was able to join the Dougall group and worked together to build a gap in excess of 3 minutes. Patten of BMC Westvaal won the stage and Metkel Eyob finished 2nd.

Metkel’s second place and some smart riding by his team mates to ensure that Gibbons gained no points on the stage saw Metkel taking not only the Yellow jersey but also the Green Points Jersey by a single point and finishing as outright winner of the King of the Mountains. Furthermore, the World Cycling Centre Africa MTN Qhubeka Feeder Team also won the team classification and finished with 5 riders in the top ten.

General Classification:

Merkel Eyob (WCCA MTN Feeder)
Ryan Gibbons (Europcar SA)                        2min 55sec
Nic Dougall (WCCA MTN Feeder)                 5min 15sec
Team Classification: World Cycling Centre Africa MTN Qhubeka Feeder Team

Points Jersey:

Merkel Eyob (WCCA MTN Feeder)

King of the Mountains Jersey

Merkel Eyob (WCCA MTN Feeder)

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