Gianni Meersman speaks about choosing Lotto Belisol over RadioShack Nissan
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Gianni Meersman speaks about choosing Lotto Belisol over RadioShack Nissan

by Xylon van Eyck at 5:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Volta ao Algarve
 
Belgian wins his second race of the season for his new team

Gianni MeersmanGianni Meersman won Wednesday’s Volta ao Algarve opener as part of the Lotto Belisol team, and starts today’s third stage equal on time to overall leader Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling). It’s been a successful start to the year for the 26 year old Belgian, who was in demand from two teams prior to 2012.

During the transfer period last year, it was announced that the Belgian had signed a contract with RadioShack and was to be part of Johan Bruyneel’s squad for 2012. However, when rumours filtered through of a possible merger between RadioShack and Leopard Trek, Meersman’s future was uncertain.

Unlike other riders affected by the merger, though, Meersman tells VeloNation he had luxury of still choosing to be part of what was to become RadioShack Nissan.

“There was definitely a place for me before and after the merger,” Meersman said. “Actually I was in a lucky position because I had to choose whether to be a cyclist for the Radioshack Nissan team or Lotto Belisol. I chose Lotto Belisol because there is more personal space. This means that I think I will receive more opportunities to ride for myself.”

On Wednesday he showed why he deserves the opportunity to lead a team when he outsprinted compatriot Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Matti Breschel (Rabobank) to win the opening stage in Portugal.

Meersman maintains he had to think long and hard before putting pen to paper with Lotto Belisol, but so far things have gone right this season.

“Actually it wasn't a simple choice, but after a few training camps I'm convinced that I definitely made the right choice. I feel good at Lotto-Belisol. Everyone is and works very professionally.”

In terms of his racing calendar, the Giro d’Italia will be on his program this year. Last season he rode the Tour de France and completed the race in 77th position. He also picked up a stage and the overall in Circuit des Ardennes along with finishing second in the Belgian National Road Race Championships behind Philippe Gilbert. He is now ready to work for the team but also ready to jump when personal opportunity comes his way.

“I would like to perform in mountainous races like the Walloon classics. This year I’ll participate in the Giro d’Italia. I have already observed some of the finishes and some of them please me. I'm going to ride a lot of races with Jurgen Van Den Broeck or Jelle Vanendert, which means that it will be my job to assist and protect those guys during the race.”

With its new beefed-up leadout train, Lotto Belisol have won five races with sprinter Andre Greipel so far. Meersman highlighted this and fired a warning sign to other sprinters for the rest of the season.

“I think that we can launch Andre Greipel to the finish as well as [Mark] Cavendish's team or even better. They will have to watch out.”

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