Meintjes and the One Thing that Eluded Him
Despite his top 10 finish at Le Tour, there is still one thing Louis Meintjes wishes he had done… – By André Valentine
Speaking to Louis Meintjes before the 2017 Tour de France, you could sense that he was upbeat, if a little anxious. He talked about loving the steep climbs and relishing the chance to eat as much as he could while sampling the local cuisine. He also talked about a race that didn’t leave any room for error and how he’d have to carefully access each of the 21 stages.
Two months later, and after the 21 grueling Le Tour stages, Meintjes says he is happy… for various reasons. “I’m happy that it’s finished, and happy that it didn’t go too badly,” he told Bicycling. It didn’t go too badly indeed – Meintjes mirrored his 2016 Tour achievement of 8th in the GC and 2nd in the white jersey competition. Top 10 is good business at any Grand Tour but Meintjes also outdid some pre-race favourites, namely Nairo Quintana and former winner Alberto Contador, while aligning himself with a new generation of racers set to compete for yellow jerseys in Tours to come.
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It was still the Tour de France though, so it didn’t go without challenges and disappointments. “Stage nine was tough,” says the former MTN Qhubeka rider. “I just didn’t have my best day and it was one of the hardest stages I have done.”
He also missed out on one of his pre-tour ambitions: winning the white jersey. He admits that this is something he wishes he had done: “I would have really liked to wear the white jersey, even if it was just for one day.”
He says that the 2016 route suited him better, while the 2017 route was more about not making mistakes or having a bad day but he remains defiantly positive about his performance. “Sure I didn’t do everything perfect, but I am not looking back at this year’s Tour with any regrets. I gave it 100%”
For now the most important thing to Meintjes is that he is happy with his Tour performance. Happy he had no mechanicals or crashes. Happy he finished in the top 10. And especially happy that he received such strong support, both from home and in France. “Just the support from everyone was the biggest highlight for me. Also riding in the crowds up (Col du) Galibier and (Col d’) Izoard… that was something special.”