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The last time Louis Meintjes won a pro bike race Barack Obama was still president of the United States.
All that changed Thursday when the veteran South African climber kicked to victory at the one-day Giro dell’Appennino in a solo breakaway.
“My first win in seven years,” Meintjes said. “I owe it to my team. Thank you.”
On Thursday, he attacked on the hilly route to open a gap and drove it home to the finish line in Genoa. Teammate Georg Zimmerman was third.
“A lot of guys were suffering in the heat and in the end I still had power, so it was good,” Meintjes said. “I took my chance. I would like to ride GC at the Tour again, but first we race the Dauphiné, and I am looking forward to it.”
Now 30, Meintjes’ last pro wins came in 2015, just when he was making headlines for his explosive climbing and endurance.
He’s since emerged as a steady hand in the grand tours, with two top-10 finishes at the Tour de France, but discovered it’s hard to win at the top of the WorldTour.
The victory is the latest for his Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert squad that’s on a roll the past few months.
The Belgian outfit now boasts 12 wins on the 2022 season, and moved up to sixth in the WorldTour team rankings in the latest numbers.
Also read: Critérium du Dauphiné race preview
The team is carrying big momentum out of the Giro, where it placed two riders in the top-10 and won two stages. It also won Scheldeprijs and Gent-Wevelgem this spring.
Meintjes will headline at the Critérium du Dauphiné next week in France and is expected to start the Tour on July 1 in Denmark.
Thursday’s race was also notable by the return of Davide Rebellin. The 50-year-old returned to racing for the first time since breaking his leg last year, and promptly finished 19th.