Team Principal of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Douglas Ryder, says that the start of the 100th Giro d’Italia has been a really good turn around for the team. Currently, Ryan Gibbons lies eighth on the Tour General Classification after three stages. The 21-stage Tour of Italy runs from 5-28 May.
The team has had it tough after struggling with injuries and illnesses at the beginning of the season. “We could see from the Tour of Yorkshire just a weekend ago that by finishing first and second has lifted the team spirit again and it got the guys to believe in themselves and their coaches again,” he said.
When chatting about the Grand Tour, Ryder said: “To ride in the Grand Tour is an absolute privilege. To be a part of the centenary Giro d’Italia was something we wanted to bring a well-balanced and strong team to, and create opportunities and options for ourselves because we knew that if we did that, we could do a huge amount for the Qhubeka charity.
“We’ve got an amazing campaign to change 100 lives forever – we want to put 100 girls on bikes to show the potential and possibilities of that and what can be done for them.”
Ryder mentioned that the team wanted to be visible in the racing, and so went into the first three stages on the island of Sardinia as hard as they could. “We ending up with a sixth, a fifth and a fourth while we were really trying for the win every day,” he added.
To wear the leader’s jersey in the King of the Mountains with Daniel Teklehaimanot was a dream come true for the team. There is also a combined competition, where the team that collects the most points over all of the competitions wins an award at the end. Currently, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is leading the competition.
The team moved from Sardinia to Sicily yesterday to race a few days on the island. The Tour then heads to the South of Italy, and then up to Milan where the Giro d’Italia started 100 years ago.
“We don’t have any riders that can race in the high mountains so we are going to take our opportunities if and when we can during the next two weeks of racing and then just survive the last week until Milan,” said Ryder.
Ryder says we’ll see the team continue to animate the race and do the best that they possibly can. “Hopefully we can continue the momentum that has been started already in the first three days of an incredibly successful and hugely aspirational 100th Giro d’Italia,” he concluded.
South Africa’s Ryan Gibbons currently lies eighth on the (GC) after placing eighth, seventh and 14th in the first three stages of the Tour.
“I’m really excited to be at the Giro. A month ago this wasn’t even on the cards for me and it all happened quite suddenly. It’s been very exciting and quite surreal being here,” said Gibbons.
For Gibbons, being a part of the 100th edition of the Tour is absolutely incredible. “Also to have been able to start so well. I’m really confident and motivated and couldn’t be happier,” he added.
The last few stages have suited Gibbons due to them not being too hilly. “I’ve been able to be up there, I do believe that I could be a bit more competitive and I’m taking a lot of positives into the upcoming flat stages,” he said.
When chatting about his top 10 GC Position, Gibbons said: “To be in the top 10 GC in my debut Grand Tour and also in my first year as a professional is a dream come true. I don’t have the words to explain how I am feeling right now.
“Realistically, looking at Tuesday with a lot of climbing – that's probably going to be my last day in the top 10. But that was never really a goal or ambition. I’m just really looking forward to the next few flat stages and hopefully can be competitive there. My personal goal would be to get a top five – I know I’m capable of it and we’re just really look forward to getting that chance.”
For more information about the Change 100 Lives Forever #GIRO100BIKES campaign – the initiative that will raise at least 100 bikes for girls during the 100th Giro – visit www.bicycleschangelives.org.