Stage 9 of La Vuelta a Espana saw Songezo Jim animating the break of the day and Louis Meintjes finishing in 10th. The menu offered a similar profile like the previous day with the Cumbre del Sol being the sole obstacle of the day. However, the riders had to tackle the climb twice, finishing on the summit the second time around. Averaging at 11 percent it was all but easy.
Starting in Torrevieja the peloton rode along the Costa Blanca. The area is know as a regular training camp territory for a lot of riders and it didn’t take long until some tried to make use of their local knowledge. Songezo managed to get into the days 14 men breakaway.
The group was able to build up a lead of 5.20 minutes before the big teams began to chase. Katusha, and Sky were to be seen on the front of the peloton, when the break hit the Cumbre del Sol for the first time. Songezo battled hard to stay with his breakaway companions. He couldn’t quite match the speed when the former allies started to attack each other with the first KOM in sight but was fast enough to come back on the descent.
Back in the peloton Louis held his cards close to his chest and managed to stay with the GC favourites when they reeled in the breakaway’s remnants. On the final 3.5 kilometers it was Dutch Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) who proofed to be the strongest. He put in a strong attack, but was caught by Chris Froome (Sky) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) only a few hundred meters before the line. Nevertheless, he attacked again to win the stage and take over the GC lead.
23-year-old Louis Meintjes stayed in contention and came home 34 seconds short of Dumoulin. In the GC he moved up to 12th place.
Songezo Jim – Rider
I am happy to finally making the break of the day. After trying hard for 3 days now, it was quite a good feeling to represent the team out front. When the break went, Jaco Venter closed the gap and I jumped across to the move. It was good for us, but unfortunately we were caught. I gave my best and I’ll surely try again to get into another break. Who knows, the next time we might stay away.
Louis Meintjes – Rider
It was another stressful day. The stage started with some crosswinds and I was involved in a crash, just 30km into the race. Luckily I didn’t hurt myself. The team did a fantastic job once again looking after me all day. My legs didn’t feel as good as in the previous days, but I’m happy placing 10th and moving up in the GC.