Though they were unable to make a real impact over the last few stages, or in the final overall standings, SA-registered team Dimension-Data will be pleased with their performances throughout the opening Grand Tour race of the season, making their presence felt on multiple stages at the Giro d’Italia.
The local outfit secured 12 top-eight stage finishes at the 100th edition of the classic annual contest, which came to a close yesterday, led by South African prospect Ryan Gibbons.
Spanish rider Omar Fraile snatched a spectacular victory on stage 11 to cap the team’s solid effort, with Italian Kristian Sbaragli and Australian Nathan Haas also contributing to their challenges up front.
Gibbons enjoyed a spectacular debut, building on a breakthrough season after he won the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia in March, with the 22-year-old rider finishing among the top eight on a total of six sprint stages.
He was withdrawn from the race after 15 legs, with the climbers taking control up front, in order to preserve the young rider for the rest of a long 2017 campaign.
Meanwhile, Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot delivered another historic performance by taking the King of the Mountains jersey on stage two of the race, though he later relinquished the lead in the climbers’ classification.
Dutch rider Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) won the final stage, a 29.3km individual time trial between Monza and Milan, with compatriot Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) completing the course just 15 seconds off the pace to lift the overall title.
Dumoulin, the Olympic time trial silver medallist, finished the gruelling three-week contest 31 seconds ahead of 2014 winner Nairo Quintana of Colombia (Movistar), who took second place in the general classification, with Italian defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) grabbing third spot a further nine seconds back.
South African rider Jacques Janse van Rensburg was the squad’s first finisher in the overall standings, ending 36th of the 161 men who completed the race, though he was nearly two hours behind Dumoulin.
Fraile was third in the King of the Mountains classification and Teklehaimanot finished fourth in the points race.
Dimension Data, who settled for 18th spot of 22 squads in the team category, were set to continue their World Tour campaign in Europe in preparation for the second Grand Tour race of the year, the Tour de France, to be held in July.