23 Jul, 2015

Louis Meintjes abandons Tour de France

Louis Meintjes has had to retire from the Tour de France due to illness.
MTN Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s ace hill climber and 2014 national road champion Louis Meintjes bowed out of the Tour de France today with a severe case of gastroenteritis.

“It is really sad that Louis won’t start today. It is Louis first Tour de France too and it is a race he really wanted to do well in, especially these stages coming up that he had looked at previously in training during his preparation for the Tour de France. It is sad for him and it is sad for the team but Louis is a young rider who has a lot to give to cycling in the future,” said the team principal Douglas Ryder. “His health is first and foremost, for us as a team it is much more important to realise his potential going forward and we want to look after his health as much as possible. I am certain that Louis will be back at the Tour de France in the future, going for the overall victory and we will absolutely support that in the future but for now his health is the first priority.”

Although his body was showing signs of illness during yesterday’s stage 17, Louis bravely finished just within cut off time.

“By the time he got the finish line he was in severe pain and quite dehydrated as well. He was taken in the ambulance straight to hospital where he was resuscitated on intravenous fluids and given some medication. After some investigations, we found he has quite a severe case of gastroenteritis. We don't know the exact cause of how he picked up the bacteria but he is doing much better already. Unfortunately there is just no way that he will be well enough to start today's stage,” explained team doctor Dr Jarrad van Zydam. “Louis will spend another day in hospital and then more than likely, he will be discharged tomorrow. We obviously wish him a fast recover and are sad that he won’t be able to start today.”

Up until now, Louis has shown great promise in his first Tour de France, with his best individual performance being a fifth position during a very competitive stage 12. He was also 10th in the Best Young Rider classification at the end of that stage.

“For me, this is a really disappointing and unfortunate occurrence. Louis has trained and prepared for this for the last three years, building himself up. Unfortunately these things happen in sport and in life,” said Dr Carol Austin, the team’s head of health and performance. “I guess it is something that we just have to deal with. What's most important for our team is our athlete’s health and recovery so I wish Louis a quick recovery and look forward to him being back on the bike.”

It was MTN Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s goal to finish its debut Le Tour with all nine riders but, because rider health is the team’s first priority, the decision was made to withdraw Louis before the start of today's 18th stage. Louis, who is only 23 years old, is seen by the team as a Tour de France general classification (GC) contender of the future.

Raymond Travers

Raymond Travers

Modern Cyclist Editor |