AFRICANGLOBE – He has already made Tour de France history as one of the first African-registered team ever to take part in the event — and now Daniel Teklehaimanot has pedaled past another major milestone.
On Thursday, Teklehaimanot became the first African to don the polka-dot jersey awarded to the race’s leading climber, his team said.
The 26-year-old MTN-Qhubeka rider gave the thumbs-up after earning a third point in the King of the Mountains classification to take the jersey from Joaquim Rodriguez, who dropped a point behind him.
Colleagues on the Eritrean’s team were quick to voice their congratulations on Twitter, writing: “Lost for words right now… Battling to see what’s going on through the tears. Dream come true to have the polka-dot jersey!”
Teklehaimanot’s achievement came when a sprint ride at the Cote du Tilleul saw him cross in first place on the final category four climb of the day.
“I’m really happy about what happened today. I can’t believe it,” he told the official Tour de France website.
“That was my childhood dream, to get the polka dot jersey at the Tour de France. I was excited about having it just for one day.
“After I scored two points, I was nervous that I wouldn’t take one more, otherwise I would be left with nothing.”
The 2012 London Olympian — who had surgery to correct tachycardia, a condition resulting in a faster than normal resting heart rate, in 2009 — was the first of the 198 riders to start the opening time trial of this year’s Tour.
But there was a cruel setback for Tony Martin, who broke his collarbone in a crash as stage six of the Tour drew to a close.
As Czech Zdenek Stybar made a late dash to win the stage, his Etixx-QuickStep teammate Martin suffered injury in a crash that could spell the end of his participation in this year’s race.
However, the German retains the leader’s yellow jersey because race rules say a rider held up in an incident in the final three kilometers of a stage is credited with the same time as the winner.
By: Chris Borg