THE Eritrean climber for MTN-Qhubeka feeder team, Metkel Eyob, today soloed to victory in the Action Ford Berge en Dale Classic race in South Africa.
The 102km race was the West Rand’s biggest road race and the Eritrean came first after being the lone leader with a 48 second gap at six kilometers to go, in a total time of 2:25:16.
Eager to test their form ahead of the national and continental road championships in the next two weeks, MTN-Qhubeka dictates the pace of the race early on against though competition from Team Europecar South Africa.
According to team manager JP van Zyl, the attacks started hard on the Hillsnacks climb, which loomed within the first 10km.
“That made a selection of around 35 riders and then we just kept up the pace and controlled the front from then on.”
With 40km to go, Van Zyl said his riders went on the attack again, playing out their tactics according to plan.
“We waited for the last 20 kilometres to attempt our getaway. Two riders from our team and two from EuropcarSA went up the road.”
On the final Valverde climb, Eyob and EuropcarSA’s Bradley Potgieter broke away, with Potgieter claiming the king of the mountains hotspot.
Sensing his opportunity, Eyob attacked his nearest rival and successfully dropped him to ride alone into the finish.
The 21-year-old Eritrean, who is also the reigning Carnival City Classic winner, was happy to take his first Berge en Dale win.
Meanwhile, at the third Mallorca Challenge race yesterday, a fast start saw a number of attacks and counter attacks before a large group of 28 riders went clear. In that initial lead group, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had both Merhawi Kudus and Johann van Zyl present. Alejandro Valverde was also in the move and so the threat he posed led Team Sky to reel the group back in around the 80km mark.
By the time this general regrouping took place, a number of riders had already been dropped from the peloton. A flurry of attacks then ensued with Merhawi and Valverde eventually going clear once again.
The duo built up a lead of 2 mins over the peloton before Valverde attacked in a descent with just 30km to go. After a brave and courageous fight, Merhawi would be caught by the chase group with 18km left to race.
Valverde pushed on solo to eventually take the win as the select group of chasers battled it out for the minor places. Merhawi would cross the line in 10th place and also won the most combative rider prize of the day, this after Johann won the most aggressive prize yesterday, making it another good day out for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung.
“I felt really good today. On the climbs I was also very comfortable and relaxed the whole day. It’s unfortunate because I just couldn’t follow Valverde on the descent. In the end I had to settle for 10th but I am happy with today’s performance and also to with the most combative prize as well,” said Eritrean rider Merhawi Kudus.