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Principal and teammate welcome Meintjes back home

Meintjes

By Mark Etheridge

Much as English Premier League football sides strive for marquee-type signings before the start of each season, the world’s top cycling teams are also on the hunt to boost their squads.

And just as Manchester United would boast with someone of the calibre of Romalu Lukaku, Team Dimension Data will be crowing over the fact that they’ve brought Louis Meintjes back into the nest.

The Rio Olympics rider has his own boasting rights, having nailed consecutive top 10 finishes at the world’s premier road cycling event, the Tour de France, in the last two years.

He has returned to the African outfit after a two-year stint with Team Emirates, but is focusing right now on the Vuelta Espana event.

Meintjes, 25, said in his official statement: ‘I’m super excited to be coming back home to an African team, and to work with the Qhubeka charity once again. My choice to come home was easy, as Team Dimension Data stands out from other professional teams. They don’t only ride to win, but also for a more important cause – to mobilise people on bicycles in Africa.

‘African cycling has stepped up to a world class level over the last 5 years. I want to thank Doug Ryder and Team Dimension Data for believing in me. Together, we can take Africa’s team to the top step of the podium by 2020.

For his part, team principal Ryder says it’s another piece of the puzzle slotting into place. ‘I’m really happy to have Louis back in the team, as he was with us from the beginning and we always wanted to target the grand tours and do well in them and to try and win a grand tour with an African rider.

‘In Louis we saw that potential early on, as well as his BMT [big match temperament], so it was sad to see him leave at the end of 2015.

‘We did hope that another African rider could stand up and be that rider, but it is super difficult to race at the level required to be in contention to win after three weeks of hard racing against the best in the world.

‘Louis has shown how close he is and we are thankful that he has decided to join us for the foreseable future to try and win stage races and a grand tour with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

‘He’s seen our team grow and how well we have performed at the highest level, so that’s encouraging and was a big part of his decision.’

Former and current teammate once again, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg is another cyclist looking forward to the return of Meintjes.

‘I’m very excited with the news that Louis is coming back to the team. He is a very talented rider and has already proved his credentials as an overall Grand Tour contender.

‘I think it’s the natural home for him, being a South African. His arrival will usher in a new era for Team Dimension Data and for African cycling, and I look forward to being part of this story.’

Picture of Meintjes in Tour de France action courtesy of Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images


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