Meintjes set to make Lampre-Merida debut at Tour Down Under

Louis Meintjes will make his Lampre-Merida debut in just over one month at the 2016 Tour Down Under, the first event on the WorldTour calendar, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The South African joined the sole Italian WorldTour team after three seasons with MTN-Qhubeka, making his Tour de France debut this season and finishing 10th overall at the Vuelta a Espana. Diego Ulissi will also line up for Lampre-Merida at the Australian race for the first time since 2014 when he won the stage to Stirling and finished third on GC.

Meintjes recently told Cyclingnews he is aiming on returning to the Tour next season as the 23-year-old looks to continue his progression as a GC climber. The Tour Down Under offers Meintjes an early opportunity to test himself against fellow Tour de France GC aspirants such as Richie Porte on the Willunga Hill stage on the penultimate day of racing. Meintjes and Lampre-Merida are yet to announce his early-season racing schedule. Lampre-Merida is currently holding a team meeting and camp in Darfo Boario Terme, Lombardy.

The Italian newspaper has named six riders for the Tour Down Under team but with the race allowing seven-rider teams, another rider could be added to the squad.

Of the six riders named, Manuele Mori and Tsagbu Grmay are the other two riders who rode for Lampre-Merida in 2015, including this year's edition of the race with the later the best placed rider on GC from Lampre-Merida, finishing in 11th on GC.

New signing, 21-year-old Federico Zurlo,and former Tinkoff-Saxo professional Marko Kump, 27, have also been named in the squad for the six-stage race. Kump claimed 18 wins this season riding for Continental Adria Mobil team including five stages of the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July.

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