Team MTN-Qhubeka’s Daniel Teklehaimanot nailed the King of the Mountain’s points log today to edge into the category lead, and with it donned the polka dot jersey – the first time for an African cyclist in the Tour de France.
The Eritrean Time Trial Champion made history last month when he won his first ever World Tour jersey (and the first for the team) at the Criterium du Dauphine, sending out the signal that he would be the one to watch in the mountains.
Teklehaimanot was in the 3-man break from early in the sixth stage with Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar) and Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis), and worked hard showing his strength and determination to achieve the mountain points. Each of the three category four climbs offered one point to the first rider that crested the climb.
The team’s official website (http://www.teammtnqhubeka.com/) quoted Teklehaimanot as saying, “I feel really proud at the moment because I have this jersey. I am excited to be able to show my team’s colours on the podium because we are trying to give 5000 bicycles to African students, being on the podium will help our project and I want to help make a difference for my African people. It was always our plan to get this polka dot jersey so I am happy we could do it. I am proud to be African and I am proud to be Eritrean. This is a day I will never forget.”
Team MTN-Qhubeka Team Principal, Doug Ryder, was captured on a Facebook video post taken from the team bus when Teklehaimanot crested the final climb and claimed the leading points. Amidst the jubilation, Ryder said: “It’s incredible, first jersey for the team in the Tour de France, it was one of our objectives. It is amazing for Daniel and amazing for the team.”
Cycling SA President William Newman, who had just earlier in the day said that “the best was yet to come”, was elated. “I told you so,” he laughed. “It is fantastic for Team MTN-Qhubeka to be wearing one of the most prestigious jerseys in such a prestigious race. To be acknowledged as the best climber is a huge honour and privilege. Well done to the team for supporting him to get this achievement, let’s hope he can wear it all the way to Paris.”