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Meintjes makes it a debut European victory in Italy
- Updated: March 30, 2015
Former Under-23 world road silver medallist, Louis Meintjes took his first European win on Sunday after a brave solo that also earned him the overall victory at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali cycle race in Italy.
It’s the second GC win for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung of the season, after the success at the Tour de Langkawi.
Before the start of Sunday’s final stage, raced over 152.6 kilometres, the organisers decided to shorten the total length, but all climbs remained in the programme of the day. With 141km to go from Pavullo to Roccapelago the team kept an eye on the action.
The race started fof fast but no breaks were allowed to go clear. Only after 30km into the race were Primoz Roglic (Adria Mobil) and Sam Spokes (Drapac) able to open up a gap. They built up a maximum advantage of 3.30 minutes, when Bardiani-CSF decided to organise the chase. Their pacesetting helped reducing the number of riders in the bunch and when MTN-Qhubeka-p/b Samsung joined the action with around 40km to go it was down to approximately 15 riders to go for stage glory.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s goal for the day was the stage win and Meintjes timed his attack on the steepest climb of the day to perfection. By then Roglic had dropped his breakaway companion but was soon reeled in by Meintjes who himself had dropped Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Fantini), a two-time winner of this event, and Davide Rebellin (CCC-Sprandi) who had been the only riders that were able to match his acceleration.
With 22km to go the reigning African champion went for his brave solo and was able to extend his gap. In the end he finished the stage in a time of 3hr 54min 24sec, more than a minute ahead of his nearest followers, Cunego and Rebellin. Overnight race leader Ben Swift (Sky) came in fourth, meaning that Louis had managed to put enough time between the two of them to also take the overall.
Said Meintjes: ‘This win really means a lot to me. It’s my first win in Europe and I have to thank the whole team who supported me at this race. They were always there and it makes me really proud. I hope this win also motivates people to help us and Qhubeka putting more kids on bikes in Africa.’
Added MTN-Qhubeka’s sports director Alex Sans Vega: ‘The team did really well today. We were going for the stage win, but to also take the overall is brilliant. Our plan was to attack with 40km to go. And Louis was just phenomenal. He attacked on the steepest climb of the day and then just rode off. It was just a perfect day for us.’