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Vuelta a Espana

Louis Meintjes Wins on Las Praeres


At the end of a long breakaway, Louis Meintjes rode to a solo victory in the ninth stage of the Tour of Spain, which finished on the particularly steep climb Las Praeres after four other climbs in Asturias.

The South-African rider was accompanied by eight riders in the breakaway, which was formed after a battle of more than one hour. Meintjes was also the best placed rider in the general classification.

The escapees benefited from a five minute advantage during most of the stage and started the final climb with a gap of more than three minutes. So it was the breakaway battling for the stage win on the slopes averaging 13% of the final climb.

Louis Meintjes distanced his competitors one by one and finished solo, as the winner. He took the second victory in the Vuelta for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in two participations after Rein Taaramäe’s success on top of the Picon Blanco last year.

At the age of 31, Meintjes takes his first World Tour win, his second success of 2022 after the Giro dell’Appennino. It is de 23rd victory of the season for the team of Jean-François Bourlart and the fifth ever in a Grand Tour.

In the general classification, Louis Meintjes climbs to sixteenth position. Domenico Pozzovivo moves up to 22nd place. Rein Taaramäe, who was third on top of the Colláu Fancuaya one day ago, was 19th in the stage result.

After the loss of Jan Hirt because of a positive COVID-19 test, Gerben Thijssen was also forced to abandon this Sunday following a crash downhill. The Belgian sprinter, who was still recovering from a crash in the sprint in the opening weekend, has abrasions in his face and on his arms and will need stitches in his knee.

« I wanted to attack today, because I didn’t manage to follow the rhythm of the GC favorites the last couple of days. If I was in the right breakaway, it was thanks to my teammates. They controlled all breakaway attempts for more than one hour, after which one acceleration from my side was enough to join the right one. But the task wasn’t easy at all for me, because I was regarded as one of the best climbers in the leading group. My breakaway companions made my life hard by forcing me to work more and by accelerating now and then. I knew I was spending more energy than the others, so I wasn’t sure whether I would be the one with the best legs in the end. The slopes of Les Praeres were so steep that there were no other tactics than climbing in time trial mode to the top. It is so special to win here. This is the first time that I’m on top of the podium in a World Tour race, this is something I really wanted to achieve in my career. It will take some time before I realize what I achieved today! »

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