South African Louis Meintjes (NTT Pro Cycling) attacked on the final slopes of l’Alpe du Zwift to win Friday’s stage 5 of the Zwift Tour for All, crossing the line just ahead of Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) on the soaring virtual climb.
Meintjes deployed a Breakaway Burrito powerup in the final kilometer to get an initial gap and then bolted away from Hamilton in the final 100 meters.
“I went really quite deep,” Meintjes said. “I was already fading at the end and I was just waiting for somebody to come past me.”
The victory capped off a week of dominant riding by NTT Pro Cycling, which won two stages and claimed the points overall in the weeklong team classification with 397 points, compared to 241 points for Mitchelton-Scott and 239 for Alpecin-Fenix.
Austrian rider Michael Gogl won the second stage of the five-day race, and throughout the event NTT riders targeted the intermediate sprints and KOM markers, which all awarded points toward the final classification.
Douglas Ryder, the team’s longtime manager, said that going after the overall team prize was the squad’s primary goal during the race.
“Our ultimate goal was the team prize and whatever else came in between was icing on the cake,” Ryder said. “We wanted to give all of the riders an opportunity to race.”
Ryder said the squad had 20 different riders compete across the five stages. In addition to the riders, NTT Pro Cycling employed six staffers during each race. Two team directors barked out orders to riders across a live chat app, while three coaches monitored each riders’ physiological numbers, such as wattages and heart rates. Then, a team marketing manager collected the data to send back to sponsors and fans.
“One coach was just focusing on heart rate — we know what the riders’ max heart rate is and we can guide him and say ‘Louis, you’re at 95 percent so tap it off,'” Ryder said. “There was so much work behind it — even more than a real-life race.”
The victory marked a milestone for Meintjes; the South African has not won a professional race in five years. Meintjes lives in Andorra and has been riding indoors exclusively since the coronavirus shutdown closed down races and businesses across Europe. Cyclists in Spain and Andorra have been forbidden from training outdoors.
Meintjes said he used the time away from riding to focus on his top-end fitness by riding short and intense intervals in Zwift.
“Pretty much the last two months I’ve been on [Zwift] every single day,” Meintjes said. “It’s been a great way to get some proper intensity and it’s easier to do a super structured workout.”
Zwift Tour for All stage 5
- Louis Meintjes, NTT Pro Cycling, 2:23:40
- Lucas Hamilton, Mitchelton-Scott, at 0:0.89
- Stefan de Bod, NTT Pro Cycling, at 08.96
- Rigoberto Uran, EF Pro Cycling, at 17.79
- Luis Mate, Cofidis at 18:99
Final points classification
- NTT Pro Cycling, 397 points
- Mitchelton-Scott, 241
- Alpecin-Fenix, 239
- Israel Start-Up Nation, 196
- EF Pro Cycling, 186