Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeInterviewsLouis Meintjes - u23 World Road Championship Silver Medallist

Louis Meintjes – u23 World Road Championship Silver Medallist

-

There were few surprises in the final reckoning of the Elite World Road Race Championship in Florence.

Don’t say ‘Costa’ – he’s a quality rider; a season which included two stages and the GC in the Tour de Suisse plus two Tour de France stages meant he was a man to be reckoned with.

I was just that the pundits – me included – overlooked him.

But the U23 race threw up a number of surprises; all of the big name Belgian, British, French and Italian favourites failed and Slovenian Matej Mohoric moved seamlessly up from junior to U23 Champion of the World.

And in second place was a young man who chased the Slovenian all the way to the line and once again reminded us that African cycling has to be taken seriously.

Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka and Republic of South Africa) kept the African Pro Continental squad’s dream of a season rolling with the silver medal.

Louis Meintjes
Louis Meintjes (Sud Africa). Photo©Luca Bettini/MTN Qhubeka

The team started with Gerald Ciolek’s magnificent win in Milano-Sanremo and throughout the season have always been ‘in the mix,’

Junior champion of the RSA in the individual time trial and road race in 2010, the following season Meintjes took a stage in the highly respected Triptyque Ardennaise stage race in Belgium.

That ride got him a start with the Lotto U23 team for 2012 and as well as the RSA U23 TT title there were numerous strong results in Belgium and France.

This season he signed with MTN-Qhubeka, retained his RSA TT title and added the U23 road race championship for good measure.

He also performed well in UCI stage races with fourth spot in the Tour of Taiwan and ninth place in the Tour of Korea.

We spoke to Louis soon after his excellent ride in Tuscany.

Louis Meintjes
This moment has been the focus of Louis’ entire season. Photo©Luca Bettini/MTN Qhubeka

Congratulations on a great ride, Louis – how many riders did RSA have in the race and what was the game plan?

“We had three, Chris Jennings (ex-Rapha-Condor and Davie Bell winner), my MTN-Qhubeka team mate Johann Van Zyl, and me.

“The plan was for me to wait for the finale with my team mates controlling the breaks – it worked out perfectly.”

It looked like you might get up to Mohoric on the descent and run in to the line.

“I actually caught him at the top of the big climb but couldn’t hold him on the descent – I don’t usually struggle on the descents but he’s very, very good at going downhill, fast!”

What was your take on the course?

“I thought it was a good course for the Worlds – maybe there could have been a little bit more flat between the climbs . . .”

‘What ifs?’

“No, pretty happy – I didn’t make any major mistakes during the race.”

Louis Meintjes
Louis looks cool in Lombardia. Photo©Luca Bettini/MTN Qhubeka

Did you train to peak for it?

“It was one of my goals from the start of the season and once I saw the parcours I trained accordingly.

“In training I found a climb of about the same length as the big climb in Florence, rested a little then put in a super hard effort to simulate the second climb which was a real ramp – I was on 39 x 26 for it.”

How have the RSA Media been?

“It’s been crazy; Chris Froome’s win in the Tour de France sparked a lot of interest in African cycling.”

What’s the South African cycling scene like?

“The local scene’s not the best – there’s not too much money about and it’s hard for young guys to view cycling as a career.

“The races all include a mass participation element which makes it a bit different to a European race.”

Louis Meintjes
Louis and Kristian Sbaragli finish the Coppa Marco Pantani. Photo©Luca Bettini/MTN Qhubeka

Did the stage win in the Triptyque Ardennaise get you the ride with Lotto?

“That stage win was a surprise but it was one of those days when everything just lined up for me – I was on a small Belgian team but did have good form.

“I was in the break with a Lotto guy that day do they got a good look at me on the day.

“The ride with Lotto was great, I rode a good programme which helped my development a lot but was only on a three month tourist visa so had to go home after that expired.”

Then you signed with MTN-Qhubeka.

“The team could see that I was growing as a rider and with winning the RSA U23 road race and time trial titles it confirmed that I was the best for my age in the country.”

[vsw id=”g2NiCf1qMvE” source=”youtube” width=”615″ height=”450″ autoplay=”no”]
Louise talks about his pride at being a rider on the MTN-Qhubeka team.

It must be inspiring to have Gerald Ciolek as a team mate?

“Apart from his abilities as a rider, he’s a really nice guy – to be riding alongside him is like a dream.

“Just last year he was one of the guys I used to look at in the glossy magazines and on the TV.

“Sergio Pardilla is a really good guy too; he gives me a lot of advice during and after races – what to do and not to do.”

Worlds apart, what was the hi-lite of the season for you?

“Finishing Lombardia; it’s not just that the parcours is so tough and the quality of the field so high, the weather was terrible on top of that.”

[vsw id=”LFf8hboKbx4″ source=”youtube” width=”615″ height=”450″ autoplay=”no”]
Louise chats about being the youngest rider in the Tour of Lombardy – his World Tour debut.

Was that the end of the season for you?

“No, I have the Tour of Rwanda in mid November and maybe the African championships at the start of December but if I do ride it then I’ll take a week or two off before.”

Louis Meintjes
Louis road a strong season-long programme, here he’s comfortable in Milano-Torrino. Photo©Luca Bettini/MTN Qhubeka

2014?

“There’ll be no major changes to my winter preparation – I’ll continue to work with the team coaches.

“I’m really looking forward to next season.

‘The Worlds are in Spain and as soon as the course is announced I’ll begin to think about the U23 Worlds – I’m still eligible for 2014…”

Ed Hood
Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 47 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, a team manager, and a sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days for some of the world's top riders. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Daniel Holloway – Setting Fire to Speed Week

The 2014 Giro was a brilliant race, so good in fact that a lot of good racing came to be ignored. Take ex-Raleigh man, and six day rider Daniel Holloway’s (Athlete Octane & USA) setting fire to the Speed Week criteriums series in the USA. ‘Hollywood’ first caught the eye as US Novice 500 Metre Time Trial Champion on the track in 2003; by 2005 he’d won a stage in the Canadian Tour de l’Abitibi – ‘the junior Tour de France.’

Le Tour de France 2010, Stage 8: Station des Rousses – Morzine-Avoriaz; Schleck Takes First Blood

Great racing today to Morzine-Avoriaz, and whatever Astana pay Paolo Tiralongo (Italia) and Daniel Navarro (Espana), it's not enough. Tiralongo has been around a long time, third in the Baby Giro in 1998 he turned pro in 2000 and arrived at Astana this year after three years with Fassa, three with Panaria and four with Lampre.

Randy Allsopp – 25 and 50 Mile TT Champion in the ’60s and ’70s

Randy Allsopp was 25 and 50 mile champion, stage racer of renown with multiple victories, top 10 finisher in the world’s fastest amateur stage race, The Olympia Tour in the Netherlands, and - along with Ferdi Bracke - one of the very few people ever to catch Hugh Porter in a Pursuit race.

James Spragg – Right in the Mix

Viktor calls; 'there's an English boy - James Spragg - riding the Three days of West Flanders - he rode the Samyn too - you should find out about him.' For sure, Vik!

Bob Cary – Part Two; Life After TI-Raleigh

In Part One of our interview with Bob Cary we covered that part of his career up to his third year with TI Raleigh and the end of 1976. For 1977 he was back in the UK with the Carlton-Weinmann team alongside riders like Olympic team pursuit medallists, Mick Bennett and Robin Croker not to mention British pro scene stalwart, Reg Smith.

Nigel Dean – An Enjoyable Pro Career in the ’70s and ’80s

In April 1978 my pal Dave and I stopped off in the north of England to watch the English pros in action at the Lancaster Grand Prix. Sitting in rare north of England spring sunshine to watch the race we were surprised and excited when Falcon pro, Nigel Dean chose our patch of grass to call it a day and sit and happily chat away to us for an age. It’s taken us a while to catch up with him again...

At Random

Le Tour de France 2012 – Stage 19: Bonneval – Chartres (ITT), 52 km.

It’s Sunday morning and I’ve just about come out of the mild shock I was suffering from last evening, after watching Bradley Wiggins’ stunning time trial into Chartres.When he crossed the line, it finally sank in that an English rider was going to win le Tour. Up until that moment, it had all seemed like a dream, but as Bradley punched the air, I looked around the wee bar we were in and realised; ‘he’s done it, he’s actually done it!’

Le Tour de France 2006 – Day 4: Stage 1, Strasbourg – Strasbourg

Sunday in Strasbourg, stage one-a day for the sprinters. It was quite late when I got to sleep, I had a coffee in the hotel after I came in from my pizza place, it was too strong for a wimp like me late at night and my efforts to nod-off were also seriously hampered by demented French men driving around Strasbourg blowing their car horns all night.

Borut Božič – Vacansoleil’s Sprinter

It's only metres from the finish in the final stage of the 2006 Vuelta a Cuba and US rider Joe Papp has it in the bag. His wife is in the cheering crowd as he begins to raise his arms in celebration - but an instant before he crosses the line there's a yellow and red haze to his right - Slovenian Borut Božič glides past the American to take his third stage win of the race.

Jamie Burrow at the Christina Watches Italian Training Camp

This time last year I was traveling the world, sourcing suppliers for a new Planet X clothing range. One year on and we have made some giant steps forward. Not only has all the hard work paid off, with the new Planet X 365X clothing range now available both in store and online, we are also proudly supporting the Danish Professional cycling team Christina Watches - as official technical sponsor.

Kyle Gordon – National 50 Mile TT Champion, Despite Crashing!

Kyle Gordon was fourth in the CTT 10 Mile Championship and fifth in the CTT 25 Mile Championship but made no mistakes – well, except for crashing that is - in the 50 Mile Championship held on a far from ‘float’ course in the north east of England near Cramlington.

Le Tour de France 2011, Stage 10 – a little tourisme

Yesterday we arrived in Rodez as planned, picked up the hire car without any bother, and got ourselves, eventually, after getting lost a couple of times, to the hotel - one of these typical French 'pod' rooms, but it's okay with it's bunk beds and little shower room / toilet. A drive up to the Permanence, aka the Press Headquarters, to pick up our race accreditation, and we'd be all set for a pretty cruisy Rest Day. Only, the Permanence happened to be over two hours drive away, and once there, we found that only Ed's 'creds' were ready - mine hadn't been "approved by Julia" (the head ASO cred issuer).