Daniel Teklehaimanot sealed MTN-Qhubeka's first ever WorldTour classification victory at the Critérium du Dauphiné as he crossed the line on the eighth and final stage of the French race in Modane Valfrejus in the red and white king of the mountains polka dot jersey.
Teklehaimanot led the competition from stage one, having claimed ten points on the opening stage, and built on his advantage throughout the race via aggressive racing in breakaways to finish on 65 points with Chris Froome second in the standings on 26 points.
"I am very happy to win the climbers jersey. This is a very special result for me, it is like a dream. I am also happy for the team to get this jersey because you can see it means a lot for everyone as well," Teklehaimanot said. "I have received a lot of support and nice words from many people in Eritrea and everywhere in the world."
Teklehaimanot, who joined the South African team from Orica-GreenEdge at the end of 2013, added his jersey win was for one of the team sponsors.
"I am thankful for the team and I am happy that I can help promote our Qhubeka charity and 5000 bicycles campaign by winning this jersey. Teklehaimanot said
Teklehaimanot wasn't the only African born rider to claim a jersey as Froome won the overall to go with his two stage wins. The two riders will line up in the same race again in just three weeks as Teklehaimanot's makes his Tour de France debut which he will race with "high motivation." Teklehaimanot has ridden the Vuelta a España on two occasions, finishing 146 in 2012 and 47 in 2014.
Jens Zemke, MTN-Qhubeka's head of performance explained the race as a dream, praising the riders for consistently making the race.
"To summarise our Dauphine, the last eight days were absolutely incredible. To win the climbers jersey which is our first ever World Tour jersey, every day we were part of the action," Zemke said. "We were in break, we were doing the leadouts and we were sprinting.
Zemke added the performances of Edvald Boasson Hagen to finish top-five on three occasions, finishing second in the points classification, and 23-year-old climber Louis Meintjes who finished sixth in Pra Loup and third on Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, have reassured the staff the riders are ready for a debut Tour de France appearance in three weeks time.
" These were amazing results for us and so the team rode incredibly well. We have our major goal of the year coming up in three weeks, the Tour de France and the team showed we are ready for it," Zemke said. "To compete on such a high level as an African squad after only three years in professional cycling is superb.
"We are also happy to have the attention of the media so we can promote our project and our campaign to put 5000 kids on bicycles in South Africa. So I think the boys did an incredible job here and also the whole staff, everybody did a great job."