The 16th stage of the Vuelta a Espana, deemed the queen stage, saw Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) secure the stage win from the early breakaway. Louis Meintjes put in another incredible ride to solidify his top 10 place on the General Classification.
With 7 classified climbs over the 185km route it was always going to be an exciting day in the general classification race. The early racing though saw 10 riders get away from the peloton. With none of the 10 riders being a threat on GC, they were allowed as much as 22 minutes lead and inevitably the chance to decide the stage honours.
For MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung it was all about looking after Louis Meintjes on this difficult day. The team did a fantastic job to ensure Louis started the penultimate climb under the best conditions possible. Tinkoff-Saxo were the team to then start applying the pressure on the cat 1 Cobertoria climb after some initial work by Katusha. Over the top, there were only 18 riders left in the favourites group, including Louis.
The final climb was only 6.8km in length but with an average gradient of 11% and peaks around 30%, it certainly showed which GC riders were feeling the effects of a hard Vuelta. Louis was one rider though that proved to still have good legs as he came 7th out of the main GC contenders and 15th on the stage.
With his result, Louis was able to consolidate his 10th position on general classification as we head into tomorrow’s rest day.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was actually a strange stage because there was a break of 10 riders and nobody would pull straight away. We thought Katusha might start pulling but they waited until 22 minutes which was strange for me. This morning we spoke with the boys in the bus and we are looking to get them to Madrid so we did not want to blow them up in the beginning, so we supported Louis 100% today. They all did a good job and Jaco was still there for him with a bottle deep into the stage. On the last climb Louis was amazing, he was dropping Valverde, Pozzivivo and other guys. It was nice to hear it on the radio. So he remains in the top 10 and took time on many guys which is good ahead of the TT.