The 7th and queen stage of the Criterium du Dauphine would be a spectacular day for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. Louis Meintjes put in a phenomenal ride to claim 3rd place on the stage, only beaten by stage victor Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).
All this excitement only came after Daniel Teklehaimanot all but wrapped up the King of the Mountians competition. Daniel and Louis were part of the large break of the day that had 5 category 1 climbs before them. Daniel took maximum points on the first 3 cat 1 climbs while Louis picked up a few points himself to move into 2nd place in the Polka Dot jersey competition. Daniel only needs to complete tomorrow’s final stage to win our team’s first ever World Tour leaders jersey!
Once the excitement of the KOM battle settled somewhat, there was still the stage honours up for grabs, and what a spectacle it would be. It came down to final 12km’s and the last 2 cat 1 climbs where 4 riders had 30″ on the group that contained Louis, Pierre Rolland (Eurpocar), Pawel Polijanski (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alexis Vulliermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) with the group of GC favourites a further 1’30” down the road.
The gap between the 4 front runners and the GC group quickly got compressed under the hand of Team Sky on the steeper gradients. When Froome and van Garderen attacked with 4km to go, it resulted in the race coming all back together. Froome and van Garderen then surged ahead with 3km to go and Louis joined Benat Intxausti (Movistar) in the pursuit of the 2 leaders.
Froome would later gap van Garderen to take a good win but it was the American that would don the yellow leader’s jersey. Behind them Louis and Intxausti would be able to hold on to compete for the final stage podium spot, Louis just edging Intaxusti for 3rd. It was carnage behind as the rest of the favourites came home in one’s and two’s.
Louis Meintjes – Rider
Today was a very good stage for me as it had a lot of climbing. I was really happy to be able to get a good result today for myself and for the team. We also got a whole lot of mountian points with Daniel so that was also great and made today a very good day for our team.
Daniel Teklehaimanot – Rider
I am very happy with my performance here at the Dauphine which started on the first day when I took the climbers jersey. I tried to make the break as often as possible to collect the points and today was the big day so I was happy to make the important break today as well. The climbers jersey is a special jersey for me, since I was a kid I always thought about winning the climbers jersey in the big races.
Jens Zemke – Rider
Today was one of the greatest day’s in the history of our team. Finishing just behind Froome and Van Garderen on a climb in a World Tour race in 3rd place is an amazing result. We had a plan for today and it worked out just as we had hoped. We wanted Daniel in the early break and should another group cross to the break we wanted to make sure we then had 2 riders in front. We did this and then we could give Louis a go on the last climb. He went for it and only 2 of the top riders in the world could go by him. So for this young guy it was a super, super result. Also the fact that we have already secured the climbers jersey with Daniel today, he just needs to finish tomorrow with no problems, makes this a super good Dauphine for us. It is the first time we have done this race and being only 2 weeks away from the Tour, we couldn’t be happier right now.