SA's Meintjes breaks new ground at Olympics

Rio de Janeiro - Louis Meintjes came close to securing Team South Africa their first medal at the Rio Olympics on Saturday. 

The 24-year-old, who finished 8th in this year's Tour de France, rode to a 7th place finish in the men's road race. 

That may not seem that close to a medal, but when one considers that there were 144 riders taking part in the event then the magnitude of Meintjes's effort is clear. 

It is the best ever finish by a South African in this Olympic event. 

Riding alongside team-mate Daryl Impey, Meintjies did not enjoy the support in numbers that some of his competitors had throughout the 256 km journey. 

"It's good to hear and hopefully the team builds on that and goes even further," Meintjes said upon hearing the news that this was South Africa's best ever finish at the Olympics.

"It was a really long, hot day and I think me and Daryl worked well together with what we had and with our capabilities ... I think we rode a really good race."

Impey agreed.

"It was pretty much full on all day. It was a challenging course; a super hard course, super hot," he said.

"We were outnumbered, but the way the race was ridden it kind of played into our hands a little bit.

"We were in a good position coming into the last lap ... I think we did really well compared to the other nations that had five riders and invested a lot into this event. We're really chuffed with the way we handled ourselves today and with Louis climbing there with the world's best and finishing seventh was a fantastic result for us."

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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