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Meintjies fifth in great SA showing in Korea

South Africa’s Louis Meintjes has finished fifth in the final stage to top off Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s successful UCI 2.2 Tour of Korea.

The first African Professional Continental team was at the head of the race in all eight stages and made an indelible mark on the whole race. Italian Kristian Sbaragli won the opening stage and Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung stood atop the podium last week after the team time trial. The  reward for their hard work was  the title in the team ranking, many top stage finishes and three riders in the final top ten.

“This has been a great tour for our team. We’ve had some bad luck at the worst moments, but the team has never stopped tryingÔÇ£, said satisfied sport director┬áKevin Campbell, who also lead the team to success in Asia at the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. ÔÇ£Every rider has learnt a lot, and as a team of developing world class riders I am satisfied that we will end this tour a stronger team for this experience.ÔÇ£

Dennis Van Niekerk and Louis Meintjes were the best riders for the African team, finishing sixth and ninth overall. The two South Africans were among the most aggressive riders in South Korea, appearing very often in escape groups and on Friday helped to make the fight for the overall rankings even more exciting.

Italian sprinter Sbaragli, who opened the Tour of Korea with his first individual win as a pro and wore the leader’s yellow jersey for one day, was 10th overall.

The overall title went to Briton Michael Cumming, nine seconds ahead of Chinese rider Kinglok Cheung and Spanard Constanino Zaballa Gutierrez (+1.13). Van Niekerk was 1:37 behind Cummings in sixth place after eight stages and 1,077km of racing. Meintjes and Sbaragali were about three minutes back in ninth and 10th places.

Youngster Meintjes was rewarded for his outstanding race with second place in the young rider ranking. Sbaragli was also second in the sprint ranking.


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