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Nic Dlamini misses Tour de France time cut by 40 minutes but fights to reach Tignes

Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka NextHash) coming to the finish on stage 9 of the Tour de France
Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka NextHash) coming to the finish on stage 9 of the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

While Tadej Pogačar dominates the Tour de France with apparent ease and total control, the other end of the results highlighted a different picture - one of suffering and pride, and arguably even more admirable than the dominant race leader. 

Cyclingnews saw how a handful of riders sprinted up the final kilometres of the climb to Tignes on stage 9, just finishing inside the time limit, while Groupama-FDJ sprinter Arnaud Démare and six others failed to make it and were cruelly excluded from the race on the eve of the first rest day in the Alps. 

Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka NextHash) crossed the line alone, finishing after seven o’clock, and an hour and 25 minutes after Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen) won the stage.

He was 40 minutes outside the time limit of 37:20, calculated from 14 per cent of the stage winner’s time of 5:04:03. There are now only 165 riders left in the Tour de France. 

"It was a hard stage and there were some honest climbs; the nature of the stage and the weather didn't make it easy," Dlamini said after the stage. "It was just a bad day to have a bad day. I was already unlucky to also crash and lost contact and after that I was on my own, so it was really difficult to just ride a good pace and get to the guys on my own.

"I would have loved to finish the race but it is sad to finish this way but for me the most important thing was not to stop and ride until the finish regardless of being out of the time limit. It's a special race and it's always been a dream of mine to ride the Tour de France and I think just getting off my bike and into a car wouldn't be an option.

"I'm glad that I finished even though I finished an hour and half from the winning time - it was hard, bad day."

Dlamini was riding his maiden Tour de France and was making history as the first Black South African to compete in the sport’s biggest race. He is a role model for many in South Africa, especially in the townships, where he grew up and now tries to inspire other Black riders.

Dlamini crashed early in the 144km mountain stage to Tignes but proudly refused to climb off and throw in the towel. He fought on to the finish and was cheered as he crossed the line, even after most fans had headed home and crews had started to break down the finish area.  

Race commissaries occasionally consider special circumstances and allow a rider to continue in a race despite finishing outside the time cut. But with Dlamini losing so much time, they had little choice but to list him as OTL (Outside Time Limit) in the official results. 

"I'd really like to thank everyone for the great support, from when the Tour started up until this point," Dlamini added. "The support has been amazing and that was the reason that I wanted to really finish today and not get off my bike and into a car.

"This is a race that I wanted to honour, and honour my dream. It was my first Tour de France and I knew it would be hard but I've honoured that dream; I am disappointed but at this point there's not much I can do."

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