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Sick Mentjes forced to pull out of first TDF… with just four stages to go
- Updated: July 23, 2015
South African champion Louis Meintjes’ first Tour de France has ground to a halt in the Alps, the youngster being waylaid by a bad bout of gastroenteritis.
Until Thursday the MTN-Qhubeka side had taken pride in the fact that they were one of very few teams still left with nine riders but the team’s priority remains rider health.
Meintjes managed to finish the 17th stage on Wednesday but took severe strain and only just made the cut-off.
He was taken straight to hospital, see picture above, and will spend another night in hospital on Thursday.
Said team doctor, Dr Jarrad van Zuydam: ‘Unfortunately Louis came down with quite a sudden illness yesterday morning. He struggled through the stage yesterday and I still don’t know how he managed to finish the stage. By the time he got to the finish line he was in severe pain and quite dehydrated as well.
‘He was taken by ambulance straight to hospital where he was resuscitated on intravenous fluids and given some medication. After some investigations, we found he has quite a severe case of gastroenteritis. We don’t know the exact cause of how he picked up the bacteria but he is doing much better already.
‘Unfortunately there is just no way that he will be well enough to start today’s stage. Louis will spend another day in hospital and then more than likely, he will be discharged tomorrow. We obviously wish him a fast recover and are sad that he won’t be able to start today.’
A sad Doug Ryder, team principal, added: ‘It is really sad that Louis won’t start today. It is his first Tour de France too and it is a race he really wanted to do well in, especially these stages coming up that he had looked at previously in training during his preparation for the Tour de France.
‘It’s sad for him and it is sad for the team but Louis is a young rider who has a lot to give to cycling in the future. His health is first and foremost, for us as a team it is much more important to realise his potential going forward and we want to look after his health as much as possible. I am certain that he’ll will be back at the Tour de France in the future, going for the overall victory and we will absolutely support that in the future but for now his health is the first priority.’