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"The final time up the climb Merhawi and I were in the front group. Merhawi first tried a move up the climb and I tried one going over the top but we weren’t able to get much of a gap on the group,” Meintjes says

Photo: Sirotti






21.03.2014 @ 13:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Having already excelled in the recent Tour de Langkawi, exciting African climbers Louis Meintjes and Merhawi Kudus carried their momentum in their first race on European soil. Despite the GP Nobili Rubinetterie being too flat to come away with a result, the duo showed great form when they mixed it up with the best climbers on the ascents.


It was a select group sprint finish that would decide the outcome of the GP Nobili today. Simone Ponzi (Neri Sottli) would be the fastest finisher with Cristian Delle Selle (Team Idea) taking 2nd and Fran Ventoso (Movistar) in 3rd.


The race got off to a fast start, so fast in fact that a break could not be established until well over 100km of racing. Eventually 5 riders would go clear but with the finish not all that far away, they were kept on a short leash by the peloton. With around 50km to go, Alejandro Valverde (MOV) would attack the peloton, bridge the gap to the peloton and go right passed them in pursuit of the line in a solo effort. Valverde would not make it though as he was reeled in by the select group of riders with 8km to go.


Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would have a decent outing as both Merhawi Kudus and Louis Meintjes showed some fine sets of legs to be at the front of the race when the selections were made. Going over the races final climb both Kudus and Meintjes were part of a 19 rider chase group, just behind the lone Valverde. Unfortunately another 30 odd riders would bridge the gap to the Meintjes and Kudus group before reeling in Valverde as well.


“It was a really fast race today, the break only went after 120km of racing. The final time up the climb Merhawi and I were in the front group. Merhawi first tried a move up the climb and I tried one going over the top but we weren’t able to get much of a gap on the group,” Meintjes explained.


Team DS Manel Lacambra would add to Meintjes account of events,


“It was after Valverde attacked that our guys tried their moves in order to bridge across to him. This race was one for the sprinters who could climb and so once over the climb they chased everything down to ensure a sprint. With our young team of African climbers we tried to set up the sprint for Merhawi, in the end he got a top 20.”


The race would be the first outing in Europe for the majority of the riders representing Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung today and Lacambra was very impressed.


“It was really nice to have a full African team today. Dennis [Van Niekerk], Jacques [Van Rensburg] and Adrien [Niyowere also very active in the first 2hrs of racing. Any move that went off the front in the beginning, at least one of them was part of it. In the climbs later on, Louis and Merhawi were always visible. The only sad thing is Tsgabu crashed, he was fine but we suspect a broken collarbone,” Lacambra concluded.



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