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Worlds U23 silver medalist beats Daryl Impey in the vote to succeed Natnael Berhane as the best rider on the continent

Photo: Sirotti

CHRIS FROOME

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LOUIS MEINTJES

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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NATNAEL BERHANE

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16.12.2013 @ 18:29 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Louis Meintjes has crowned a fabulous season by being named African cyclist of the year by a jury that was composed of among others Bernhard Hinault and Chris Froome. The MTN-Qhubeka rider takes the prize for  his silver medal at the U23 World Championships and beats Daryl Impey who became the first African to wear the yellow jersey, into second in the vote.

 

The U23 World Championships are often dominated by riders  from the European cycling nations, with the occasional Colombian, Australian and American popping up to claim a spot on the podium. However, it is very rare for a rider outside cycling's mainland to medal in the most prestigious race for the world's future stars.

 

Not many had expected the trend to be bucked at this year's race in Florence. 3 seconds after Matej Mohoric has crossed the line with his arms in the air to be crowned new world champion, South African Louis Meintjes was, however, the next rider to cross the line and so took a very well-deserved silver medal as he held off the main bunch in the closing kilometres.

 

That 2nd place has now been turned into a 1st place at the African Cyclist of the Year awards as the young South African has been named the continent's most successful rider in 2013. The MTN-Qhubeka rider who also finished in the top 10 in the Tropical Amissa Bongo and the Tours of Taiwan, Korea and Rwanda, got most point in a vote conducted by a jury that was comprised of cycling celebrities like Chris Froome and Bernhard Hinault.

 

Meintjes amassed 57 points in the vote which was just one more than Daryl Impey who was celebrated as the first African to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. After winning the team time trial, Impey's teammate Simon Gerrans decided to deliberately give the jersey to his friend and teammate and Impey enjoyed the coveted tunic for two days before handling it to eventual winner Chris Froome. Impey also won stages in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Bayern Rundfahrt, was 5th in the Eneco Tour, took his national time trial crown and won a silver medal with Orica-GreenEDGE at the world team time trial championships.

 

Last year's winner Natnael Berhane was a distant 3rd in the vote with 37 points. The Eritrean turned professional with Europcar at the beginning of the season and won the queen stage on the Elmali climb in the Tour of Turkey. Having originally been beaten into 2nd by Mustafa Sayar, he was given the overall win when it was announced that Sayar had tested positive for EPO earlier in the season.

 

Another Eritrean, Merhawi Kudus, who will turn professional with MTN-Qhubeka in 2014, was 4th in the vote.

 

Result:

1. Louis MEINTJES (South Africa, MTN-Qhubeka) 57
2. Daryl IMPEY (South Africa, Orica-GreenEdge) 56
3. Natnael BERHANE (Eritrea, Team Europcar) 37
4. Merhawi KUDUS (Eritrea) 30
5. Soufian HADDI (Morocco) 24
6. Tesfom OKUBMARIAM (Eritrea) 13
7. Abdelbaset HANNACHI (Algeria, GSP Algérie) 10
8. Daniel TEKLEHAIMANOT (Eritrea, Orica-GreenEdge) 9
9. Adil BARBARI (Algeria, Vélo-Club Sovac) 7
10. Azzedine LAGAB (Algeria, Vélo-Club Sovac) 6

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