Meintjes at the Tour Down Under: Willunga Hill and chaos

South African amidst the free-for-all

Willunga Hill! Fourth for Diego and 16th for me. Unless you’re winning, you always want a better result but I would have at least liked to have just felt better and be able to help out a little more. If I am to look to the positives, I can’t be too disappointed being in the top 20 of the first World Tour race of the year.

The plan today was for the team to look after Ulissi and myself for the finish then see what we could do on the climb. I wanted to help him up the climb as he is in quite good form but I wasn’t that much help. I was in the lead group until the race winning attack came, but even before then the climb was really fast and I was on the limit. I think we did the entire climb at 28km/h. It was basically a 10 minute full on effort.

The climb was basically just a sprint to the top so the fight for position was tough, especially as we had a headwind up to the top. There was constant jostling for position which made saving energy really hard.

I think Porte was upset after losing time yesterday so today was a bit of revenge and he was determined to show his form. Yesterday there was a split in the sprint to the line and some top GC guys lost eight seconds. One of the leadout guys sat up after his sprint which caused a gap to open. Things are so close in this race and every second counts. If I gained only 30 seconds, I’d be in the top ten overall.

There was quite a hectic run-in to the finish with a corner at the 300 metres to go mark. That’s where the split happened so there wasn’t much you could do. There was a climb between 10 – 15 kilometres to go which meant we lost most of the big leadout trains and when that happens there is no one to control the sprint so it’s always chaotic. It was a free-for-all with everyone left in the front sprinting for a result.

We have one day left of the race, a 90km lap in Adelaide which I think is going to be very hard. After that I head straight back to South Africa to prepare for the national championships. It will be interesting this year as I will have no team so will have to race a clever race. After that, Paris-Nice is on my program for the first time. It feels like the season is in full swing.

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