It was a busy day for MTN-Qhubeka at the Tour of California. The team made moves to be in both the day’s break and sprint for the finish. Neither effort was successful but the team is edging closer to the victory they are looking for.
MTN-Qhubeka's work started when Daniel Teklehaimanot made a late move to bridge across to the day’s early breakaway. Teklehaimanot dangled about 15 seconds behind the break and looked to be losing time. Teklehaimanot finally made contact after the peloton pulled over for an early nature break, which enabled the the Eritrean rider to get across to the move.
The break fell apart with 30km left in the race. With Teklehaimanot back in the field the team could focus on the finishing sprint, and area they squad has been working to dial in. MTN-Qhubeka's roster has rotated frequently this year, making it harder to get their sprint train organised.
"We are still kind of learning," said Matt Brammeier about dialling in their sprint train. "Every race we have a different team. So it's taking us a bit longer than we'd like to get it together."
Tyler Farrar echoed Brammeier's feelings that familiarity and practice would lead to success.
“We are working on it and getting to know each other,” said Farrar. "It's been hit or miss. There have been days where we nailed it and it’s been super, and other days it hasn't. It's a work in progress."
Monday's stage from Nevada City to Lodi was a tough one for the team. Theo Bos crashed out of the race with a suspected broken collarbone, and the team team lost Gerald Ciolek heading into the finish.
"We just need to make sure we are all together still when it goes to the final 5km," said Ciolek during a video interview with Cyclingnews. "I'm still suffering from bronchitis. I’m not 100 percent. I can't really help the team I would like to help them."
At Wednesday's stage from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach the team showed improvement delivering Tyler Farrar to fifth place. The stage featured three turns, and an uphill sprint in the final kilometer, a finish ideally suited to Farrar.
The performance gave Farrar more confidence they could take win home before the end of the race. "Like I said, we still have a little ways to go, but there is another opportunity tomorrow and Sunday," said Farrar. "We are chipping away at it and I want to see us get a stage before this thing is over."
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