Louis Meintjes was named Best African Rider of the Year this week after coming out top in a poll of African cyclists. Gabonese organisers of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo conducted the annual award. This year, Chris Froome – winner of the Tour de France – was a member of the jury chaired by five-times Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault. Meintjes will attend the last stage of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January 2014 to accept the award.
Other finalists included accomplished cyclists Daryl Impey and Eritrean Natnael Berhane, who received this prize?12 months ago. This year, Impey became the first African to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, while Berhane races for French team Europcar and won a stage of the Tour of Turkey.
Meintjes, who won the silver medal in the under-23 world road race championships this year, said he was surprised when he heard the news. “I expected Daryl to win it so it was a pretty big shock to find out I’ve won. I don’t think it’s that I don’t deserve it but what Daryl Impey did was significant. I’m happy to pick up the award and it’s an honour for me. I’m looking forward to collecting the award in person.”
The 21 year old took a short break at the end of the European season before returning to racing at the Tour of Rwanda where he won a stage, his first professional victory. He’s just completed a weeklong training camp with Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung and now looks ahead to next season.
“I feel rested and I am training hard,” Meintjes said. “My goal is to step it up a level next year. I think it’s going to be a great season for our team,” he concluded.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s first race of the 2014 season will be La Tropicale Amissa Bongo commencing on 10 January2014.
Source: Team MTN-Qhubeka Press Release
Photo: Mjrka Boensch Bees