Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung celebrated a fifth place finish for Louis Meintjes yesterday when the young South African rider completed the gruelling 12th stage of the Tour de France (195km), which was the final stage in the Pyrenees.
Meintjes was part of the 22-man group that broke away from the peloton at the 20km mark, building up a gap of 12 minutes over the yellow jersey group at one point.
Team MTN-Qhubeka’s post-race press release stated that “two of the riders in the break, Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quickstep) and Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto-Jumbo) set off together just before the race hit the Port de Lers, prying open a 1’50” advantage on the chasers before the climb. Louis group brought the two leaders to within 10” by the summit before the duo attacked on the downhill again. The weather had taken a turn for the worse on the back side of the climb and wet roads awaited the riders.”
Fans were on the edge of their seats when Meintjes crashed hard, shredding his kit and exposing his shoulder, ribs, elbow and hip. Fortunately he was able to regain contact with the chase group.
“In the end, after spending over 160km in the breakaway, crashing and then chasing back, Louis would cross the line in 5th place. Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) just pipped Louis for 4th on the line, an amazing ride by our young African champion.”
Meintjes said: “I really wanted to get into the breakaway today, it was the plan for the team. Edvald really helped me to get into the breakaway. We were pushing it all race and the pressure was on, on the descents and unfortunately I took a bit too much of a risk and came down but got back to the group pretty quickly. On the final climb I just didn't have the legs to go with the front guys.”
The previous two days in the mountains also netted great performances for Team MTN-Qhubeka, with Belgian Serge Pauwels finishing 4th in the 188.2km 11th stage at Vallée de Saint-Savin on Wednesday. South African Jacques Janse van Rensburg finished in 26th place.
On Tuesday’s 167.5km Stage 10, which was the first mountain stage that took the riders into the Pyrenees for the first summit finish of this year’s race, two Team MTN-Qhubeka riders placed in the top 20 – Pauwels 14th; Janse van Rensburg 18th – and Meintjes finished in 24th place.
On behalf of Cycling SA Executive and Management Committees, all our members and the nation, we wish Team-MTN-Qhubeka all the very best for the forthcoming stages of the Tour de France.
*The 102nd edition of Le Tour de France starts from Saturday 4 July until Sunday 26 July 2015 and is made up of 21 stages covering a total distance of 3360km. The stages will be made up of nine flat stages, three hill stages, seven mountain stages with five high altitude finishes, one individual time trial stage, one team time trial stage and two rest days.