24 June 2016
Louis Meintjes. He was born on the 21st of February, 1992. He grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. Meintjes started to race at the age of sixteen. It was hard for him as a junior rider. There is not a clear pathway in South Africa for becoming a professional. He was lucky enough to get the opportunity to sign at a team in the year 2012. The Lotto-Belisol under 23 team saw potential in him and so they made him an offer to come and join the team. Due to visa issues he was not able to race a full programme, so he only raced for three months in that year. In 2013, he signed for the South African team MTN-Qhubeka. With the signing, the visa issues disappeared too, because that team arranged a visa card for the whole season. In the three years that he has raced there, Meintjes raced a lot of races. Last year the team even got a wildcard for the Tour de France, but unfortunately Meintjes could not finish the race, because he fell ill in the last week. In 2014 Meintjes already stated that he has big dreams. He does not only want to win stages one day, he wants to win one of the big classics. He came close last year, in the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He became eleventh, a big achievement for such a young rider. After the disappointment of the Tour, Meintjes started in the Vuelta and he became 10th in the general classification. He could keep up quite long with the favorites in the mountains and after some talking with his team managers, he decided to go for a good place in the general classification, which led him to place ten. It was quite a shock for the MTN-Qhubeka team when Meintjes announced that he would leave the team to join the Italian Lampre-Merida. They had set out a plan for Meintjes for the upcoming years and yet they could throw all those plans out of the window. According to Meintjes it gave him more opportunities and he could learn more from an experienced team. Lampre-Merida has given him space to grow this year and he will start again in the Tour de France. Hopefully he will make it to the finish this year and maybe he will do some great things on the bike in the Tour de France. Louis Meintjes. He is on his way to become South Africa’s new hope.