Louis Meintjes earned himself another title today when he soloed to victory at the African Continental Championships in Wartburg. He was part of an elite group that formed midway through the race and included his fellow countrymen Jay Thomson and Jacques Janse van Rensburg. Both moved on to round out the podium, with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg coming in fourth.
The South African quartet normally wears the black and white stripes of team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. Today they showed off their national team kit and were joined doing so by teammates Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Merhawi Kudus and Adrien Niyonshuti, who represented their respective countries Eritrea and Rwanda.
The 161 kilometer long race saw an early attack by Ethiopian rider Hadgu Abay. The lone breakaway built up a lead of 2:30 minutes, when he reached Harburg Hill after 58 kilometers. With around 100 kilometers to go, Eritrea put in an attack with Berhane. He was followed by Thomson and forced the peloton to react. Eventually, they caught Abay and caused several counterattacks.
At 120 kilometers the lead was down to twelve riders, when Jacques tried to make a move. Whilst he was unsuccessful doing so, he prepared the way for Louis’ attack. Last year’s South African champion put the power down on one of the final climbs of the day and quickly built up a lead of more then a minute. Behind him his teammates controlled the race, allowing Louis to grow his gap up to two minutes and to take the win solo.
Having five riders in the group the South African team played its cards again in the final stages of the race, when Jay and Jacques managed to drop the peloton as well. Reinardt led the rest of the bunch home, including MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung feeder team rider Jayde Julius. Coming off a win at the u23 South African Nationals last week, he managed to underline his form by taking the u23 title of the day. Runner-up in this category was Merhawi, who got the better of Ethiopian rider Temesgen Buru.
The African Continental Championships proofed the depth and talent of MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, who’s riders managed to win the majority of the available medals during the week.
Louis Meintjes – Rider
I’m really happy with this title. As a team we did an awesome job today. We trusted in our strengths and rode a very controlled race to finally manage a full podium.
Jay Thomson – Rider
The whole South African team was pretty amazing today. Taking the first four spots just shows that. We really rode like a team today, which is normally rather rare when riders compete in their national team colours. When Louis managed to break away we controlled the rest of the peloton, before I also jumped. Jacques later managed to bridge across and we eventually followed Louis in second and third. With Reinardt placing fourth it’s simply an amazing day for the team.
Image: Craig Dutton