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Tour de France

Louis Meintjes well protected in a tricky stage

A risky stage awaited Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux this Friday at the Tour de France, crossing open fields for 183 kilometer towards Cahors. If the main expectation was that the sprinters wanted show themselves one more time before Paris, the GC riders had to manage this nineteenth stage without time loss before the decisive time trial in Rocamadour the next day.

This is why the riders of the Belgian team focused their efforts on surrounding Louis Meintjes, the sixth of the general classification, whilst Taco van der Hoorn grabbed his chance in a breakaway. The five escapees never benefited from an advantage of more than one minute and the Dutchman rode in the lead of the race for 138 kilometer, before joining his teammates in support of their leader.

It was a strongly reduced peloton that arrived in Cahors to sprint for the victory on a slightly uphill finish after an explosive final. Alexander Kristoff took fifteenth place. Louis Meintjes and Andrea Pasqualon also finished in this small peloton of less than 30 riders. South-African climber Louis Meintjes keeps in this way his sixth place in GC.

« We knew that it could be a tricky stage, so our priority was to protect Louis and to guide him to the finish without time loss. My role was to join an interesting breakaway in the beginning of the stage and to anticipate eventual movements in the peloton. We attacked with a group of five strong riders and we had to work hard to keep an advantage of one minute. Matej Mohoric accelerated in the hill zone, we were all on the limit and the breakaway exploded. From that moment, I was determined to use my last forces in service of my teammates by protecting them from the wind towards the next climb. The solid performances of Louis motivate us to accomplish our mission each day. If everything goes well during the time trials, we will be seven riders to accompany him to Paris. Among whom Kobe Goossens, who is fighting the pain since his bad crash. This shows how strong we are collectively, and how motivated we are. »


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