African cycling made some tremendous progress in recent years, largely thanks to the work of MTN-Qhubeka, the first Pro Continental team from that continent. Team manager Douglas Ryder gave many riders a chance to perform in the big races of Europe, and among those who were able to take advantage of this opportunity was Louis Meintjes, the talented 22-year-old rider from Pretoria.
After he finished second in the U23 Road Race at the Firenze World Championships, Meintjes had a great start to the season in 2014, taking the win on the road at the National Championships. Afterwards, he finished 11th the Tour of Langkawi and 2nd the Mzansi Tour, but the best result came in the Giro del Trentino, where he came home 5th and took the white jersey after an impressive ride in the last stage, on Monte Bondone. Now, Louis Meintjes is preparing for the next races, but he made time for this interview in which he talkes about his results so far and the objectives he has for the second half of the season.
– Louis, you’ve had a great first half of the season so far. Did you expect to get so many strong results?
No, not really. Must say I’m very happy with how my season has gone so far.
– What’s the result that makes you the most proud?
The second place on the last stage of the Giro del Trentino. It is a race that really suits me and it was my first goal of the season.
– Two days later, you raced the 100th Liège–Bastogne–Liège, your third start in a Monument, and finished 61st. How was that experience?
It is a really nice race and I would really like to focus on it in the future. It was also not too far from where I stayed in Belgium when I was racing as a Junior and during the first two years in the U23 ranks. I had a lot of good memories, my legs also felt pretty good, but I’ve had some bad luck with a crash at 160km and had to change bikes and spent a lot of energy to get back to the bunch. On the other hand, my ride there made me think I can win such a Classic in the future.
– It’s obvious you’re turning into a very good stage race rider. What are your strong points?
I like both the Classics and the tours. My climbing form is really good right now, but I have to improve my time trial. If I can do that, it will give me a lot more tours that I can target for a good GC result.
– What’s your programme for the next months?
I’ll ride the Bayern Rundfahrt, the Tour de Suisse, and the Österreich Rundfahrt. Afterwards, I really want to do the Vuelta, racing for three weeks will be new for me, so it is hard to set goals now, but to win a stage would just be amazing.
– And what other goals do you have for this season?
I am still U23, so I would really like to go to the World Championships again and see what I can do there.