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Meintjes finds his feet and extends with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert

EL BARRACO SPAIN AUGUST 29 Louis Meintjes of South Africa and Team Intermarch Wanty Gobert Matriaux competes in the breakaway during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021 Stage 15 a 1975km km stage from Navalmoral de la Mata to El Barraco lavuelta LaVuelta21 on August 29 2021 in El Barraco Spain Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Meintjes at the Vuelta (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Louis Meintjes has found his feet at Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, signing a two-year contract extension after an encouraging first season with the team.

The South African joined the Belgian team for their debut WorldTour campaign after a disappointing second stint at the team currently known as Qhubeka-NextHash.

He is still without a win since 2015 but has shown glimmers of the rider who had back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Tour de France in 2016 and 2017.

Now 29, he has had more of a consistent 2021 season, placing 14th overall at the Tour and sitting 10th at the Vuelta a España before being forced to abandon with two days remaining.

"My results speak for themselves. Within Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, I found an environment in which I feel good and perform well. The atmosphere and mentality make me happy," Meintjes said.

"I want to reward the team for the risky bet they've taken by giving me an opportunity after a couple of difficult years, because thanks to them, I managed to get back to my best level. So I'm pleased to extend the adventure for two more years. 

"In addition, the progress made by the team gives me a lot of confidence. Between our first meeting and today, I noticed a lot of incremental changes in terms of organization or equipment, which shows the willingness of the team to keep improving. Race after race, I feel like steps have been made and this motivates me a lot. So I hope that we continue growing together the next seasons."

Performance manager Aike Visbeek added: "He reached his best level within our structure, both mentally and physically. We thoroughly analyzed his previous seasons and together with Louis we established a new strategy which he executed with much enthusiasm and ambition. The crash preventing him from a top 10 in the Vuelta motivates us more to come back next year with renewed ambitions."

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert also announced a new two-year deal for Lorenzo Rota, who joined from second-division Italian teamm Vini-Zabu at the start of the year. 

The 26-year-old has had a strong second half of the year, placing fourth at the Clásica San Sebastián, before a strong run at the autumn Italian Classics, with fourth at Giro della Toscana, fifth at Coppa Sabatini, and seventh at Tre Valli Varesine. 

"I'm going to each race with the joy of being reunited with the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux family, a team in which I feel good. Extending my contract was a logical step for me," Rota said.  

"I remember that, when the structure obtained the World Tour license after my recruitment, I was in doubt whether I had the level to compete in the World Tour. With the help of the team, I exceeded my expectations by far. I progressed each race, especially in the Tour de France during which I've grown as a rider. I'm proud about the road we have travelled so far and I'm very motivated to continue our common adventure."

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