Keeping up the fight in the gruelling battle, South African rider Louis Meintjes took ninth place on stage 17 of the Tour de France on Wednesday, staying in contention for the young riders’ title.
Meintjes completed the 183km leg from La Mure to Serre Chevalier less than two minutes off the pace of breakaway winner Roglic Primoz of Slovenia (Lotto NL-Jumbo), crossing the line in a four-man group which also included seven-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador of Spain (Trek-Segafredo) and former Vuelta a Espana champion Fabio Aru of Italy (Astana Pro).
Retaining eighth place in the general classification (GC), he chopped one minute, 30 seconds (1:30) off the advantage held by white jersey holder Simon Yates of Great Britain (Orica-Scott), closing to within 2:28 with four stages remaining.
Belgian rider Serge Pauwels ended 13th on the stage, and he was lying 17th overall as he continued to lead the charge for SA team Dimension Data, though he was nearly 35 minutes off the pace of British defending champion Chris Froome (Sky) who retained his overall lead.
National champion Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, also riding for the local outfit, was involved in a crash, and though he was able to complete the stage, he slipped to 116th position in the GC.
Thursday’s 18th stage, the last mountain leg of the three-week race, will take the peloton 179.5km from Briancon to Col d’Izoard.