On Sunday, March 17th World Cycling witnessed an historic moment when Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka team) won Milan San-Remo ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard). MTN-Qhubeka (South Africa), with its newly assigned Professional Continental team status, is the first African team to ever compete at the international level.
The Qhubeka name carries a very powerful meaning in Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa): “to carry on”, “to progress”, “to move forward”. Qhubeka is a rural South African intitiative to provide bicycles, as well as inspiration to ride, to children in need.
Milan San-Remo 2013 was one of the toughest of its 104 editions. Heavy winds, freezing temperatures and snow forced the organization to shorten the race by 46km. More than 60 riders abandoned as conditions worsened throughout the race. The two first climbs, the Turchino and La Manie, had to be cancelled. Even shortened, the race was still for the hard-men of the peloton! Amazingly, even to the surprise of his team, Gerald Ciolek won in what was a tactically brilliant race. The underdog of the breakaway made the final move to outsprint fellow SRAM RED rider and fastman Peter Sagan(Cannondale Pro Cycling).
Besides the riders, the bikes and componentry were also put to the test in the freezing conditions of MSR. The world’s most advanced mechanical drivetrain, SRAM RED, was the componentry of Ciolek, Sagan and fourth place Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Pro Cycling)th.