Youcef Reguigui from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung made history today when he won the 3rd stage of the Tour d’ Azerbaidjan. While this was Youcef Reguigui’s first professional win personally, it is also the first ever professional win by an Algerian cyclist. Reguigui was able to out sprint Matej Mugerli (Adria Mobil) and Kristian Haugaard (Giant-Shimano Development) to take the victory today.
The early racing saw 3 riders escape at around the 30km mark. Adrian Honkisz (CCC Polsat), Ivan Stevic (Tusnad) and Thomas Vaubourziek (La Pomme Marseille) were the 3 riders that were able to open up 5’30″ lead over the peloton. With 50km to go, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung along with a few other teams took up the chase. The break was reeled in with less than 10km to go after some sterling pacing by Johann van Zyl. It was then left to Linus Gerdemann to lead out Reguigui and the German did his job to perfection. Reguigui opened his sprint from 300m out and was able to win by 2 bike lengths in the end.
The win for Reguigui comes after the Algerian has had an extremely busy start to the season. Currently Reguigui has the most race days, 48, out of all the professional cyclist’s for the 2014 season. Before coming to Azerbaidjan, Reguigui was on duty in the Tour of Turkey where he led out team mate Kristian Sbaragli to no less than 5 top 10 placing’s. Today it was Reguigui’s time to shine and despite the accumulative fatigue, the Algerian was still the fastest on the uphill sprint.
Rider – Youcef Reguigui
Today was hard because it was always up and down but my team was very good all day. They supported me well all stage and in the final the guys rode hard to bring back the break. Linus was very strong and he did a great job to lead me out in the last kilometre. I started my sprint a bit early but i knew the finish so i was able to win. This victory is very important to me because it is my first professional win so it is a good day for me but also for the team. It is also a good day for Algeria though because this is the first professional win for our country and i must thank Team MTN-Qhubeka on behalf of Algeria for giving us this opportunity. I think the people in Algeria will be happy with this win and i hope in some way this can open some doors or opportunities for the young cyclists in Algeria.
Team Principal – Douglas Ryder
I am really happy for Youcef, this was his 50th race day of the year and he wins his first Pro race. This shows his talent, work ethic and ability to rise to become a real star in world cycling from Algeria. After tirelessly working for Kristian last week in Tour of Turkey and bringing him to the front in the final kilometres he now stands on the top step of the podium. Having your team close down a break away and then lead you out puts huge pressure on your shoulders especially when the last guy to lead you out is a previous stage winner and yellow jersey wearer of the Tour de France in Linus Gerdemann. What an experience, but Youcef has knocked on the door many times this year with 3 top 10 placings in the Tour of Amissa Bongo and 4 top 10’s in Le Tour de Langkawi, the door is now open so let’s see what happens next.