South Africa Sport 29.8.2018 09:37 am

King puts SA’s Di-Data back on track

Team Dimension Data's US cyclist Benjamin King celebrates as he crosses the finish line winning the fourth stage of the 73rd edition of

Team Dimension Data's US cyclist Benjamin King celebrates as he crosses the finish line winning the fourth stage of the 73rd edition of "La Vuelta" Tour of Spain cycling race, a 161.4 km route from Velez-Malaga to Alfacar, on August 28, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JORGE GUERRERO

The local cycling team has been a picture of excellence over the last few years but they’ve struggled to reclaim their glory in 2018.

Boosted by their first Grand Tour stage victory of the season, South African road cycling team Dimension Data are confident they can reclaim their best form on the top-flight international circuit, according to American rider Ben King.

With the squad struggling to produce their best results on the World Tour this year, King was delighted to break the drought by winning the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana for the local outfit on Tuesday.

“It’s no secret it has been a difficult season for the team this year, but the atmosphere in the team is great,” said King, who earned his maiden Grand Tour stage victory.

“We believe in what we are doing and the potential of the team.”

The former US national champion was involved in an early break with eight other men on the 161.4km fourth stage between Velez-Malaga and Alfacar, and they had opened a gap of 10 minutes on the peloton with 35km remaining.

Having shaken off the rest of the lead group, King surged with less than 400 metres left, bursting clear up the gruelling 12km climb to the finish and dropping his last remaining challenger, Nikita Stalnov of Kazakhstan (Astana), just before the line.

King rose to 18th place as the top Di-Data rider in the general classification, 65 seconds off the pace of former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland (Sky) who held the overall lead.

South African rider Louis Meintjes, who was spearheading the Di-Data team at the three-week race, was lying in 24th position heading into Friday’s fifth stage.

King was in third place in the battle for the sprinters’ jersey and Di-Data were in fourth spot in the team competition.

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