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Tour of Utah blog: Unlucky return to America

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Johan van Zyl and Louis Meintjes of MTN-Qhubeka have made this breakaway a success, followed by Qin Chen Lu, Kohei Uchima, eventual stage winner Zachary Bell, Takero Terasaki and Gordon McCauley.

Johan van Zyl and Louis Meintjes of MTN-Qhubeka have made this breakaway a success, followed by Qin Chen Lu, Kohei Uchima, eventual stage winner Zachary Bell, Takero Terasaki and Gordon McCauley. (Image credit: Aaron Lee/Tour de Taiwan)
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Louis Meintjes (Simple Green-Bike Relgion) was fourth in the time trial, trailing the winning time by14.79 seconds.

Louis Meintjes (Simple Green-Bike Relgion) was fourth in the time trial, trailing the winning time by14.79 seconds. (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Sergio Pardilla and Louis Mentjes help to organize

Sergio Pardilla and Louis Mentjes help to organize (Image credit: Laura Weislo)

Last year was my first time in America. I raced for two months with ‘Team Simple Green’, thanks to Daniel Belling for hosting me that time.

I was really looking forward to coming back and doing the Tour of Elk Grove and Tour of Utah. Tour of Elk Grove wasn’t really a race that suited me but would help me with my build-up to Utah.

I was really surprised with the level of the riders at Elk Grove and the race turned out to be much harder than I was expecting but it was a really fun race and a nice vibe with the locals supporting the race. I am also pretty sure I got some more bike handling skills as stage one had 260 corners.

My preparations and training leading up to Utah was really good. It was also a race that was to my strengths and the team was really supportive in trying to help me get a good result.

Unfortunately early in stage 2 I was involved in an accident. I was left unconscious for a while and got taken to hospital. I was released later that day and doctors sounded confident that I had no broken bones or serious damage to my head, but it was race over for me. I am really disappointed that I lost the opportunity of racing in Utah but my motivation remains high. There's still a good couple of months of racing to come and I want to finish my first season as a professional well.

It was great to watch stage 3 of Utah on TV and see Tsgabu Grmay make it over the big climbs and finish with all the favourites. Watching it hurt more than my crash because I really wanted to be there but I was so happy that he represented us there. I'll be supporting the guys for the rest of the weekend and hoping for something special.

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The first truly African professional continental team will compete in North America for the first time, and take part in the Tour of Utah from August 6-11, 2013, bringing an international flair to the UCI 2.1-ranked race. The team celebrated its first WorldTour victory in March with the Milan-San Remo win by Gerald Ciolek, and will be looking to make a big splash in America.

South Africans Jacques Janse van Renseburg, Louis Meintjes, Martin Wesemann and Songezo Jim will be joined by Meron Russom of Eritrea, Tsgabu Grmay of Ethiopia, Algerian Youcef Reguigui and Italian Kristian Sbaragli for the race, and will share their experiences with Cyclingnews.