The extraordinary showing of South African team MTN-Qhubeka in this year’s Tour de France, lying second at the start of today’s 18th stage, is simply phenomenal. Not since the birth of my first Dachshund have I felt such a heart-warming feeling of pride, gratification and sense of shared achievement. The flutter in my chest shows that, despite being a supporter of the French rugby-team, I am a true patriot.
Sure, nice guys come second. But MTN-Qhubeka are the talk of the tour, the African wonder team shedding light on the shady and lily-livered allegations of drug cheating aimed at the race-leader, British citizen but South African raised rider Chris Froome.
And when we won the stage on 18 July, Mandela Day, as a result of a pulsating breakaway and an awesome display of power cadence by Stephen Cummings, the skies opened up to show that there is, in fact, some things which are written in the stars.
Big wine connection here, with Nederburg producer also a sponsor of MTN-Qhubeka. The content created by the team’s astonishing performance in Le Tour 2015 is a marketer’s wet dream. I don’t know what Nederburg paid for this gig, but the returns are set to be stratospheric.
South African wonder chef David Higgs is team cook, and on facebook he has done some entertaining posts on the rigours of feeding his team of riders. This includes dealing with the resident chefs of the hotels the team is staying in after each stage and sourcing the right produce in the middle of France nowhere.
David sent me a menu after a recent stage, and I must say, team MTN-Qhubeka are dining on some fine stuff after a hard day in the saddle. No ways are our boys chowing down on pails of pasta and stodgy sauce, with a stodgy chocolate cake and three energy bars for dessert.
Here is one of the evening meals for MTN-Qhubeka: Starter: Beef and sundried tomato salad with beetroot, rocket, boiled eggs and pine-nuts. Main: Seared tuna with basmati risotto. Dessert: Shaved mango with honey and mint syrup custard and roasted pineapple. Bon appétit, monsieurs.
This being one of the most gruelling sports events on earth, one can safely assume that each course is not paired with a Nederburg wine. But after Sunday’s final stage in Paris, it is showtime. For all of us.
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