Louis Meintjies races in the 2017 Vuelta a Espana. Photo: Colin Flockton/GodingImages/PA Images

JOHANNESBURG - Team Dimension Data hope returning South African sensation Louis Meintjes will claim a podium finish in the Tour de France by 2020.

Africa’s premier World Tour outfit shared some of their plans for next year in Paarl, where they handed out 175 Qhubeka bicycles.

Team principle Doug Ryder also unveiled Nicholas Dlamini as the newest member of Qhubeka’s World Tour team. Dlamini is one of the rising stars of SA cycling and has his sights set on becoming the first black South African to ride in the Tour de France.

“If we look at our 2020 plan, Louis Meintjes is a core part of our strategy and he would like to stand tall on the podium in the next three years,” Ryder said.

“We would like to try to get up to 30 stage wins and move our ranking up into the top 15 teams on the tour and fight our way into a top-five placing on the Grand Tour.”

Meintjes started out with Dimension Data before he left for Lampre-Merida, which became UAE this year.

It proved to be a dream two years for South Africa’s top road cyclist, who earned two successive eighth-place finishes in the Tour de France.

“The plan is to try for a podium by 2020 and for next year we will take a slightly different approach where I will try to get more experience through the Giro (d'Italia),” Meintjes said.

“The last few years have been a good experience and I think I learned a lot, and now it is nice to be back to where things are familiar.

“It is great to be able to fly the South African flag, I always ride for my country.”

Ryder hailed the year a success despite the odd snag such as sprint king Mark Cavendish’s crash at the end of the fourth stage of this year’s Tour de France.

“If we reflect on our 2017 season, we raced in 25 nations, more than any other team in the world; we had 273 race days which is pretty significant,” Ryder said.

“We managed to rack up 25 wins, so it was a successful season for the team, and we hope we will be able to do more in 2018.

“The highlight was definitely the Giro d’Italia stage win; our seven national champions is also a highlight.

“The maiden victories for Mekseb Debesay, Ryan Gibbons, and Ben O’Connor showed the emerging talent in our team.”

The Star

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