Meintjes: The plan is to prepare for the Tour de France

AL AIN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 23 Louis Meintjes of Sout Africa and Team IntermarchWantyGobert Matriaux during the 3rd UAE Tour 2021 Stage 3 a 166km stage from Al Ain Strata Manufacturing to Jebel Hafeet 1025m UAETour on February 23 2021 in Al Ain United Arab Emirates Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) at the UAE Tour (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The last three seasons have been riddled with setbacks for Louis Meintjes. Eighth overall in the 2016 and 2017 Tours de France, the 29-year-old South African has subsequently been hampered by crashes, injuries and illness in the three seasons since those attention-grabbing performances. As a consequence, he's failed to register another top 10 finish in a Grand Tour.

Towards the tail-end of last season, with uncertainty hanging over the sponsorship future of his NTT team, he opted to join the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team that had managed to secure a WorldTour place. It meant a return to Belgium, where he first raced in Europe as an amateur with the UC Seraing team in 2011 before moving on to Lotto's under-23 squad, and there are signs that the move has brought a change of fortune for him.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).