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Tour de France

Meintjes 2nd in the queen stage on Alpe d’Huez

Louis Meintjes took second place in the fourteenth stage of the Tour de France this Thursday, which was considered as the queen stage of the event thanks to three Hors Catégorie climbs among which the famous finish on Alpe d’Huez.

On this 14th of July, the French national day, team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux animated the beginning of the race with a festival of attacks. Belgian rider Kobe Goossens was the first rider to attack with a group of five, rapidly distancing the peloton.

On the slopes of the Galibier, the first of three climbs on the menu of the day, his teammates Louis Meintjes and Georg Zimmermann launched a counterattack and the South-African rider managed to join the leaders before the top.
So Goossens and Meintjes represented the Belgian team in this new leading group of nine riders, who started the Col de La Croix de Fer with a 5 minute gap. At the top of this endless climb of 29 kilometer, only four riders remained alongside Louis Meintjes in the lead of the race.

The five riders benefited from an advantage of 6 minutes at the bottom of Alpe d’Huez, the third and last climb of the day, to fight for the victory in the famous hairpins. After an acceleration of Tom Pidcock with 10 kilometer to go, Meintjes fought in the chase until the end to reach the line in second position.

In this way, Louis Meintjes took the second podium for the team after Taco van der Hoorn, who also finished seconds thanks to a breakaway in Arenberg-Wallers. Thanks to his performance he climbs again in the general classification, provisionally occupying thirteenth place. Meintjes has 39 points in the mountain’s classification or four less than polkadot jersey wearer Geschke.

« I'm happy and disappointed at the same time about this second place. I'm disappointed because this day could have been even more incredible, the difference between first and second in the Tour is big. But despite this I'm happy, because I showed my capabilities to the whole world. This morning, our plan was to attack with Kobe and myself. Kobe was the first to go, but because of a crash in the peloton I couldn't immediately react to join him. The peloton looked quite happy with the situation, so Georg Zimmermann and I joined forces in a counterattack. In this way, we succeeded our mission. » « I was hoping for a bigger group, but in the end we collaborated well. Kobe worked hard to make sure that our advantage was big enough at the foot of Alpe d'Huez. For several kilometers I followed Tom Pidcock closely to force him to commit for 100%. Because if I closed the gap immediately, it would enable him to slow down and accelerate again, which would be in his favor. But finally the elastic broke, he was just the strongest. Anyway, it is nice to climb in GC here on Alpe d'Huez. We will analyze the new situation and reflect on a strategy for the next days. We were again close to achieve one of our main goals for the season today, so we'll keep trying. »

« I consider the cobble stage towards Arenberg and this Alps stage towards Alpe d'Huez as two of the most important stage of this Tour de France. We finished second in both of them, which is frustrating because our riders deserved the victory, but at the other side it makes me very proud. Especially because these performances were the fruit of teamwork. Today, we had two riders in the breakaway with Kobe Goossens who was joined by Louis Meintjes with the help of Georg Zimmermann. » « Attacking with Louis Meintjes, in preference accompanied by Kobe Goossens, was our plan. Our young Belgian climber is protecting Louis since the Grand Départ in Denmark. We knew that this stage was a good opportunity to make up time in the general classification. And as a team we did a great effort to make this favorable situation happen. Louis then grabbed this chance with both hands. For us it was a pity that Tom Pidcock managed to join the leaders in the downhill of the Galibier, because it took him less energy to get in the lead of the race and he probably benefited from this advantage on the final climb. »


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