Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) came home in 3rd position. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were delighted by the performance of Louis Meintjes once again, Meintjes was our highest placed finisher in 18th place.
The 185km stage would be the last road stage of the Vuelta with only the short time trial to come. The racing was on from the gun as the stage was the last chance for most of the teams to get something out of the race. A 4 rider break went clear and got quite a big gap of around 8 minutes on the peloton. Team Sky and Team Astana were focused on having their GC riders contest for the stage win and so calculated their chase to perfection.
Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) was the last surviving rider of the break to be caught just before the out of category climb to Ancares. Team MTN-Qhubeka were on a good day as Meintjes, Sergio Pardilla, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Jacques Janse van Rensburg had all climbed with the front runners the entire stage. The attacks started from the base of the 12km climb which shattered the main group immediately. Meintjes was the last MTN-Qhubeka rider to get distanced with 5km to go, at that point there were only 14 riders left at the head of the race.
Meintjes eventually crossed the line in 18th, a great result so late into a grand tour against all of the best GC riders in world cycling. Team MTN-Qhubeka also had a good day in the team competition, finishing 9th which moved the African squad up to 11th overall.
Rider – Louis Meintjes
The stage started of really fast and hard. There was this crazy fast descent in the fast 20km’s and the peloton was going full gas. Once the break got away it settled down a bit. My legs felt okay so I was pushing for a top result but yeah that final climb was really hard. I am happy to have made it this far into the Vuelta and also happy that all 9 guys in our team are still in the race.