Kinigi- Louis Meintjes could only wait for his moment to pounce and it came on Wednesday on the Rubavu-Kinigi section of the 2013 Tour of Rwanda.
The South African riding for MTN Qhubeka started off the 69.4km stage from the resort town of Rubavu behind race leader and team mate Robert Jay Thomson in the general classification but he was to comfortably stroll into the lead as his compatriot dropped out of the tour due to illness.
The stage, the shortest on the tour, started off fast and ended fast with the biggest challenge being the Rubavu ascent. The South Africans (Team SA & MTN Qhubeka) took on the stage with intent but it was Meintjes to emerge the winner, taking the yellow jersey after general classification.
“Paul van Zweel(Team SA) got away and he is a very strong rider and we saw him as a threat. 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,” Meintjes said after crossing the finish line at Kinigi.
Meintjes along with Rwanda’s AdrienNiyonshuti, also riding for MTN Qhubeka, showed their intent with 9 kilometres to go as the reduced peloton hit the day’s final climb to the finish.
“They brought Paul back at this stage and all I had to do was fight on the last climb. Luckily I could win the sprint,” a delighted Meintjes said.
The young rider said he was saddened by Thomson’s exit but said the remaining for riders will try to compensate on the remaining stages of the tour which ends this Saturday.
After winning stage three, Team Rwanda’s best rider was Jean BoscoNsengiyumva who came in 8th position.
The Minister of Sports and Culture ProtaisMitali who presided over the awards ceremony said that the Rwandan government will invest further in the sport to make the team even more competitive.
“A lot has been done through the federation in terms of organising the tour and facilitating the team but we think a lot more has to be done to put the team at the level we want,”
“At the moment we think the boys are doing well because they are competing with more experienced and professional riders but they have been able to win certain stages which is a good sign,” Mitali said at Kinigi.
The race continues on Thursday from Musanze to Muhanga, some 128 kilometres.
Stage 3 Classification
- MEINTJES Louis MTN Qhubeka 1:52:54
- EYOB Metkel AS.BE.CO Cycling Team1:52:54”
- GIRDLESTONE Dylan South Africa 1:52:55
- DEBRETSION BARANCEAL Aron AS.BE.CO Cycling Team 1:52:56
- ATSBHA Getachew Team Ethiopia 0:11
- YEMANE MerhawiBereket AS.BE.CO Cycling Team ,,
- BIRU GotonMebrahtu Ethiopia ,,
- NSENGIYUMVA Jean Bosco Team Rwanda Karisimbi 0:15
- NJOROGE John Kenya 0:17
- LAGAB Azzedine Team Algeria 0:20