Cycling Giro d’Italia
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka celebrated a huge win on stage 11 of Giro d’Italia as Omar Fraile finished off a masterful performance by crossing the line first in Bagno di Romagna.
With its four categorized climbs and short distance of 161 km, many riders had red-circled today’s stage in the road book as a good day for a breakaway to make it all the way. The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders had saved their legs during yesterday’s time trial in order to be ready for today’s stage and they didn’t disappoint.
After multiple attacks, a big group of over 20 riders finally got a gap on the peloton. Our African Team had been very attentive and managed to get both Igor Antón and Fraile in the group. Fraile had had his eyes on today’s stage for a long time and when Mikel Landa (Team Sky) attacked from the breakaway, our strong climber followed his fellow countryman without hesitation.
The Basque duo quickly created a gap on the chasers and managed to keep it for a long time. However, as the group behind them upped the pace, the gap began to decrease and with 40 km left to go, Fraile and Landa got caught. Other riders now started attacking on the slopes towards the top of the final climb of the day and a stage win for Fraile seemed out of reach. Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) distanced the rest and went solo but suddenly Fraile appeared in the picture again, sprinting to close the gap and take the maximum KOM points.
Fraile and Rolland worked well together on the descent and kept the chase group at 15-20 seconds as they took on the last 20 km. On the final kilometers, pre-stage favorite Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) joined the front duo together with a few other riders. Knowing Rui Costa is very fast rider, Fraile was smart to get on the wheel of the strong Portuguese. With 350 meters to go, Fraile accelerated and even though Costa tried to follow, he stood no chance against Fraile who finished off his masterpiece of a stage with the biggest win of his career. By taking maximum points on three KOMs, Fraile, king of the mountains in the last two editions of Vuelta a España, also drew level with Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) in the maglia azzura classification.
During this Giro d’Italia, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka races to put 100 girls in Africa on bikes as part of the Bicycles Change Lives campaign. Before the race started in Sardinia, all the riders received a customized under-vest with the names of the special women in their lives. Fraile’s vest has the name of his girlfriend, Eva, written on it and the 26-year-old Spaniard was very eager to dedicate a stage to his girlfriend.
“I can’t believe it! This is incredible. I knew this stage was good for me and I had already marked it in my road book. 17 is my lucky number and this morning, when I talked with my girlfriend on the phone she told me “Today is your day”. She was right. When Landa attacked, I thought it might be a good idea to follow and see what happened. We then got caught again and while the others were attacking on the last climb, I just kept my own pace and managed my effort until I was near the top and then I attacked. In the sprint, I knew Rui Costa was the man to beat. However, I’m also fast and I had very good feelings in my legs today. This is the best day of my career”.