Pardilla gives MTN-Qhubeka third leader's jersey in team's first ProConti year

Sergio Pardilla soloed in to win the fourth stage of the Volta a Portugal, taking the overall race lead and giving Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung its third race leader's jersey in its first season as a Professional Continental team.

It was the Spaniard's first win since 2010, and the first leader's jersey of his career. He has had a number of top ten finishes this year with the African Professional Continental team, and was third overall at the Tour de Langkawi.

It was a team effort, team principal Doug Ryder said: “With the whole team working for Sergio on the mountain top finish in Volta a Portugal. We had Dennis van Niekerk, Ferekalsi Debesay and Ignatas Konovalovas there until near the end doing all they could and Sergio finishing it off with an incredibly well-timed attack with two kilometres to go and taking the stage and the yellow jersey.”

Pardilla was overjoyed with his performance.

“I am very happy. I am feeling very strong and I am happy we could have a good race today. The team was fantastic this whole week so far,” Pardilla said.

After the Tour of Austria, he had several weeks of altitude training, “and my feelings were immediately very good so I was hoping for a good race here. I am happy we could get this result and I am focused on finishing it off strongly for the team.”

It was MTN-Qhubeka's third leader's jersey of the year, with Gerald Ciolek taking the first one at the Tour of Bayern and Kristian Sbaragli taking another at the Tour of Korea. The team has won 12 races so far this season, including only four national championships titles and Ciolek's win at Milan-San Remo.

“We had hoped at the beginning of the season to win 10 UCI races and we have surpassed that.” Ryder told Cyclingnews on Monday.

“We also wanted to become recognised in world cycling as a credible hard working team, racing for the benefit of the African continent and we have definitely surpassed that, so this is all a fantastic bonus.”

The team is not ready to stand on its laurels but is already looking to do even better in 2014.

“It stands us in good stead for our future ambitions in 2014 for riding a Grand Tour or two,” Ryder said.

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