Louis Meintjes has signed for Circus-Wanty Gobert, who are set to compete at WorldTour level in 2021 after purchasing the licence previously held by CCC Team. The South African joins from NTT Pro Cycling, who appear likely to remain in the peloton under the Qhubeka banner next season, albeit with a reduced budget.
Meintjes placed eighth overall at the Tour de France in 2016 and 2017, but he has struggled to scale such heights since. He placed 36th overall at the recent Giro d’Italia. In a statement released by his new team, he said he would target a high overall finish at a Grand Tour in 2021 as well as success in shorter stage races.
“Next year, I want to focus on a Grand Tour and shine,” Meintjes said. “I also want to show that I'm still able to reach my best level in one-week WorldTour races, like the Tour of Catalunya or the Critérium du Dauphiné. I'm looking forward to knowing the definitive calendar for 2021, and especially the courses, in order to prepare the races which correspond best to my capabilities.”
Meintjes turned professional in 2013 and has spent the bulk of his professional career with South African squad NTT (previously MTN-Qhubeka and Dimension Data), though he raced with Lampre (later UAE Team Emirates) in 2016 and 2017.
The 28-year-old described his transfer to Circus-Wanty Gobert as a “new challenge,” though he noted that he already has extensive experience of racing in Belgium from his amateur career. He rode for UC Seraing in 2011 before joining the Lotto Belisol under-23 squad the following year.
“The Belgian atmosphere is pretty familiar. It all started in Belgium for me, before becoming a professional,” Meintjes said. “I can't wait to return to the Belgian cycling culture, it will bring new perspectives.”
Meintjes is the latest rider to confirm his departure from NTT, following Roman Kreuziger (Gazprom-RusVelo), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Total Direct Energie), Ben King (Rally Cycling), Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen) and Michael Valgren (EF Pro Cycling).
Despite that exodus and the loss of title sponsor NTT, Cyclingnews understands Manager Doug Ryder appears set to keep his team afloat next year thanks to support from the Assos clothing brand.
Meintjes joins Rein Taaramae (Total Direct Energie), Jan Hirt (CCC Team) and Baptiste Planckaert (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) among Circus-Wanty Gobert’s notable signings ahead of their elevation to WorldTour level in 2021.
In recent weeks, Circus-Wanty Gobert have also announced the arrival of Valerio Piva from CCC as directeur sportif and former Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek as performance manager.
“By adding Louis Meintjes to our squad, we reinforce our team for the mountainous WorldTour races. He's already proven his capabilities by finishing twice in the top 10 of the Tour de France. We're convinced that his career can continue crescendo with Circus-Wanty Gobert,” said Visbeek.
“Louis has reached a mature age, and this new ambitious environment in full growth will motivate him to step up to a higher level. We will establish a programme which suits him, focused on mountainous WorldTour stage races like the Tour de Romandie, the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de France.”
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