In a clinical performance, the only African Professional Continental Team was able to stamp its authority on the Mzansi Tour by having Louis Meintjes win the stage with Merhawi Kudus 2nd and Daniel Teklehaimanot 3rd.
Not only did Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung take control of the stage but also the overall classification as well as all the other secondry competitions and jerseys too. The team now how has the first 4 positions on GC with Jacques Janse van Rensburg keeping the yellow jersey after his 5th place today. Meintjes leads the green, polka dot and young rider competitions while along with the yellow jersey, Janse van Rensburg also heads up the leading African rider competition.
The 154km queen stage had the riders rolling out of Clarens with a number of attacks coming straight after the neutral zone. Team Bonitas, Team Abantu and Airgas Cycling Team were the most active in trying to force the break. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were playing close ttention to each move, not allowing any dangerous moves any breathing space.
Eventually after 60 odd kilometers 3 riders went clear while a few of the riders from the peleton took a natural break. Nolan Hoffman (Abantu), Christopher Jennings and HB Kruger (both Bonitas) were the 3 riders to escape and forge out a lead. The trio would only reach a maximum of 2 minutes lead as Youcef Reguigui and Sergio Pardilla from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would kept them in check. Hoffman was the first to be dropped from the break just before the turn into the Golden Gate nature reserve, where the road would turn upwards.
As the turn was made 30km’s was left to race and Pardilla would put in a stellar display of riding as he single handily pulled the 2 Bonitas riders back. Meintjes would later joke that it was unfair for the other teams as they had a Spanish motorbike pacing for them. Pardilla continued with his pace making once the break was caught, shelling the majority of the riders from the peloton.
This set the perfect platform for the Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung African climbers and they took full advantage of the situation. The first attack would come from Meintjes with around 10km to go and it was the defining move as he would not be seen again. The rest of the team would mark any moves that attempted to bridge over to Meintjes before eventually, Kudus and Teklehaimanot took advantage of the remaining riders and rode clear themselves.
Rider – Louis Meintjes
“The plan was to have the whole team together at the bottom of the climb and then to try have either Merhawi or myself get away for the stage victory from there. I think it went according to plan as i got away with 10km to go and Jacques was able to follow the dangerous riders. I knew the climb well as i had raced it before as a junior so when i got a gap i was able to hold it to the finish. With the Vuelta invite all the guys are really motivated to show they deserve to be there so the team was really strong today.”
Directuer Sportif – Douglas Rider
Today was the queen stage of the Mzansi Tour and it was always going to be tough for us i guess with 4 riders in the top 10 overall. A break went away about 70km into the race and they were all 2 minutes down on GC so we put Sergio and Youcef on the front and they did an incredible job. Sergio actually lasted well into the nature reserve, still being there with 12km to go and had brought the break back.
When Sergio swung off Daniel took over and rode it hard through the last few climbs, this left us with 4 riders in a group of 8. Then the other riders were all just watching us so Louis attacked and got a gap which he maintained to the finish which was incredible. In the last few km’s a young rider from Rapha Condor JLT (Hugh Carthy) and Dylan Girdlestone from Bonitas were just keeping in touch so they definitely had good rides.
The rest of the race was pretty much all over the place and Team MTN-Qhunbeka were just incredible. To come 1st,2nd,3rd and 5th in the stage just shows the level and quality of the team and the also of the young climbers we brought to this race. The performance also just highlights the level of racing that our guys have been exposed to over in Europe and the reason why were able to ride like we did today.”