Gianni Meersman confirmed with Omega Pharma-Quick Step on a two-year deal
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Gianni Meersman confirmed with Omega Pharma-Quick Step on a two-year deal

by Ben Atkins at 1:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Belgian rider to stay in the WorldTour after leaving Lotto-Belisol on a technicality

gianni meersmanAs has been rumoured in the Belgian media, Gianni Meersman will ride for Omega Pharma-Quick Step for the next two years, the team has confirmed. The 26-year-old from Tielt, in West Flanders, left rival team Lotto-Belisol on Saturday by citing the International Cycling Union (UCI) rule that, since the team has not yet secured its place in the 2013 WorldTour, he could break his ongoing contract.

"I'm very happy to become a part of this group and to ride side by side with great champions," said Meersman of his new team. "[team manager] Patrick Lefevere had already sought me out in 2007.

“His faith in me is very important to me,” he continued. “My goal is to improve even more compared to last season and to try to increase the quantity and quality of my victories. When I have what it takes to make captain I'm going to play my cards and when necessary I'll also put myself in the service of the team, as I've seen many champions from this squad do.”

Meersman spent just one season at Lotto-Belisol, where he began to deliver further on the potential he’d shown in his four years at FDJ. Early season stage victories at the Volta ao Algarve and Paris-Nice were followed by some solid spring performances, but a fractured wrist - sustained in the second stage of the Giro d’Italia - affected his summer plans.

Third place in the Clásica San Sebastián, and several top-ten finishes in the Vuelta a España saw him selected for Belgium’s World championships team, where he played a big role in Philippe Gilbert’s victory.

With Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s almost total domination of the Cobbled Classics in 2012, mostly through Belgian champion Tom Boonen, Meersman’s arrival will give the team more options in the hillier Ardennes Classics, as well as the numerous weeklong stage races.

“Gianni's arrival further improves the team's technical capacity,” explained Lefevere. “I'm expecting him to have a season as a major player in some Ardennes classics like the Brabantse Pijl or the Amstel Gold Race, as well as in some stages of important stage races or one day events.

“This year, in races like the Paris-Nice, Gianni has proven to be competitive in close group finishes and in finishes on slight uphills,” he added. “I'm sure that Gianni will be able to mature even more next year and garner some important results for himself as well as the team.”

The arrival of Meersman takes the Omega Pharma-Quick Step roster up to a total of 29 riders for the 2013 season.

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