Meintjes finishes 2nd in Italy

Louis Meintjes (Supplied)
Louis Meintjes (Supplied)

Johannesburg - South African cyclist Louis Meintjes finished second in Friday's under-23 road race in the UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy.

The 21-year-old earned a silver medal, and came close to catching Slovenian winner Matej Mohoric.

"This was a goal of mine all season," Meintjes said after the race.

"World champs is always a special race and I've been doing it three years in a row.

"Being an under-23 race, it should technically be a little easier than the level we've been racing at this year, so I thought I can maybe get a result."

Meintjes said the hard training he put in on the race circuit had paid off.

The South African team started the race with three riders, and Meintjes, Johann van Zyl and Christopher Jennings combined well.

With fewer numbers than the other nations, the South African team had to rely on riding strategically.

"My plan was to follow wheels and wait until the last hour and see what's left of the race," said Meintjes.

"I started feeling really well as the race went on. As soon as we got on the finishing circuit I could feel I had the legs today."

He hoped his achievement would spur on other riders from South Africa.

"I think this is going to happen for a lot of riders in Africa and South Africa.

"It's just a matter of time before we see more names coming through."

The race started in Montecatini Terme and finished in Firenze Mandela Forum, a sports stadium named after South Africa's former president Nelson Mandela.

The 173 kilometre race included seven laps on the finishing circuit.

Meintjes made the select group of favourites with two laps to go, until putting in a major attack on the last lap to get to Mohoric.

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