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.
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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.