Tour de Romandie: Gianni Meersman sprints to victory on stage one
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tour de Romandie: Gianni Meersman sprints to victory on stage one

by Ben Atkins at 11:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Romandie
 
An unexpectedly large peloton contests the finish of the first hilly stage

gianni meersman

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the opening road stage of the 2013 Tour de Romandie, between Saint-Maurice and Renens, as he outsprinted a slightly reduced peloton into the finish. With a number of the big sprinters left behind on the late 2nd category Col du Mollendruz - including his own teammate Mark Cavendish - Meersman was able to outpace those that were left at the end of an attacking stage.

Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) finished second, almost a length behind Meersman, with Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) third.

"It was a difficult stage," Meersman said afterwards. "The team worked perfectly. It was hard in the final, at 500 meters to go I had to brake, but then I found my good legs and saw a way to the victory.

"The goal today, if Mark Cavendish was still there after the last climb, was to go for him. If not, it would be a final for me," Meersman explained. "Unfortunately Mark had a mechanical and at that point we went for me. I was a little bit closed at 400 metres to go, but I managed to stay in the front. Peter Velits brought me to the wheel of Matthew Goss [Orica-GreenEdge] but when I saw the possibility to pass in the chaotic sprint I didn't wait. I decided to go by myself and not to wait for someone else to launch.

"I did my sprint and if they passed me, no problem, but if not I could win," he added. "I'm in good condition if I can win a sprint like that, against riders such as Goss and others. My goal is to possibly go for another stage tomorrow or the day after. You never know."

The 176.8km stage saw a break from Julien Bérard (AG2R La Mondiale), Garikoitz Bravo (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Veilleux (Europcar), who attacked in the opening kilometre and managed to get a maximum advantage of 4’45” in the first third of the stage. Steadily the three riders were reeled in by the peloton, however, with a spate of aggressive counterattacks seeing them finally caught on the 2nd category Col du Mollendruz with 46km to go.

There then followed an attack from Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), but they were caught shortly after they had led the race over the top of the climb.

Team Sky kept the peloton under control on the descent, but did nothing to stop Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) escaping with 27km to go; the Austrian was joined by Jérémy Roy (FDJ) a few kilometres later and the two riders managed to get 28 seconds clear. After being allowed to dangle in front of the peloton for a number of kilometres though, and they were caught with just over 6.5km left.

From then on the sprinters’ teams kept the peloton under control. The was a brief attack from Manuele Boaro (Saxo-Tinkoff) with just over two kilometres to go, but the Italian was soon pulled back.

BMC Racing led into the final kilometre, but Meersman was the fastest as the race hit the finishing straight.

Prologue winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) finished comfortably in the peloton, along with all the other general classification contenders, and held on to his yellow jersey with the standings unchanged.

Result stage 1
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard
3. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
5. Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar
6. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Team Astana
7. Matt Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team
9. Gaëten Bille (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM

Standings after stage 1
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 6s
3. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard @ 13s
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky @ 15s
5. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team @ 16s
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ @ 17s
7. Stef Clément (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling @ 18s

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