Dimension Data’s 26-year-old Giro d'Italia hope, Louis Meintjes, is still in the mix with four stages already ticked off. The team's South African leader is racing for at least a top-10 finish in Rome on May 27, but is ideally looking to make it into the top five.
On Tuesday's fourth stage between Catania and Caltagirone, with the Giro peloton now back on Italian soil after the opening three days in Israel, Meintjes avoided the split in the bunch that followed a crash caused by a narrowing of the road with 7km to go, and finished the stage just 10 seconds behind the front group. He now moves up to 31st in the general classification, 1:15 down on race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team).
"It was a super-hard stage – up and down all day," Meintjes said in a team statement. "It was quite nervous in the bunch, too. The stage was much harder than it looked on paper. In the final my legs felt good, but I think I lost a bit of time. I was at least close to the front."
Meintjes has re-joined Dimension Data for 2018, having spent three seasons with the team in its previous guise as MTN-Qhubeka between 2013 and 2015. In 2016, he moved to Lampre-Merida, and stayed with them when they morphed into UAE Abu Dhabi last season.
Now back with the team he started his career with in 2013, Meintjes and his teammates went into the Giro with the goal of improving on his eighth place at both of the past two Tours de France.
"It looks pretty good, especially for me, on paper, with all the uphill finishes," he told Cyclingnews at the recent Tour of the Alps when looking ahead to the Giro. "There are still the time trials but, in general, I think that it's a route that can suit me.
"It's WorldTour racing so you'd be happy with a top 10 but obviously we're trying to improve on the 8th I've got at the Tour. A top five would be really great."
Wednesday's fifth stage is a similarly hilly affair, taking the riders on a 153km route between Agrigento and Santa Ninfa.