Thomson out but MTN Qhubeka retains Tour of Rwanda lead after Meintjes wins stage three
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thomson out but MTN Qhubeka retains Tour of Rwanda lead after Meintjes wins stage three

by Shane Stokes at 1:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Gifted young rider gives thoughts in post race video interview

Louis MeintjesOvernight leader Jay Thomson today lost the race leader’s jersey he took on yesterday’s second stage of the Tour of Rwanda, suffering bad stomach problems last night and again today, but the MTN Qhubeka team salvaged things perfectly with success on day three of the race.

World under 23 road race silver medallist Meintjes had started second overall and took over at the top in style, proving strongest on the final climb and winning into Kinigi.

The result will see him wear the leader’s jersey on tomorrow’s fourth stage, a 128 kilometre stage from Musanze to Muhanga.

Today’s race was only 69.4 kilometres but any hope that Thomson could get through it was quickly dashed when he was dropped soon after the start. The South African national champion tried to push on but ended up withdrawing from the race, completely drained by his stomach issue.

Meintjes explained what happened then. “Paul van Zweel got away. He is a very strong rider and we saw him as a threat,” he said. “The team did an amazing job keeping the attack under control. Johann van Zyl and Songezo Jim spent most of the day on the front.”

Rwandan rider Adrien Niyonshuti also joined in the effort, controlling things heading onto the final climb and also reeling in the leader. “They brought Paul back at this stage and all I had to do was fight on the last climb,” said Meintjes. “Luckily I could win the sprint.”

He hit the line just ahead of Metkel Eyob (AS.BE.CO Cycling) and South Africa squad member Dylan Girdlestone. The rest of the field were further back. Meintjes holds an eight second advantage over Eyob this evening. He said the team will take things day by day.

“It’s definitely a loss not having Jay in the team. He is a very strong rider but I still think the team is very strong and it’s not impossible for us to win.”

He also gave his thoughts in a video interview after the race, which can be seen here.

Team principal Douglas Ryder said that the Tour of Rwanda is an important event for the squad. “We came to the race as it’s a special occasion for Africa’s team to race on the African continent. We sent a strong team to support Adrien’s return in his home country and to spend time with our friends at MTN Rwanda.

“Today’s victory puts us joint second in terms of UCI wins for Pro Continental teams. We can only be delighted with the job the team is doing.”


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