Tour de Romandie: Gianni Meersman sprints to a second victory on stage three
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Tour de Romandie: Gianni Meersman sprints to a second victory on stage three

by Ben Atkins at 11:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Romandie
Belgian wins another bunch sprint after a late attack from Adriano Malori

gianni meersman

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) sprinted to his second victory of the 2013 Tour de Romandie in the third stage, starting and finishing in Payerne. The Belgian was led into the finishing straight by a strong lead out from his team, which was forced to chase down a late attack from Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida). The former Italian time trial champion resisted the powerful Belgian team for some time, but was finally caught with just 450 metres to go.

Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) was the first rider to launch his sprint, but Meersman was on the Swiss rider’s wheel immediately and was able to cruise past before he reached the line. Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) was on Meersman’s tail but, although he managed to get past Albasini, couldn’t get past the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider as he veered slightly into his path.

"I was disappointed about my sprint yesterday and wanted to make it up today for everybody; my teammates especially," said Meersman afterwards. "They did a great job today, did a perfect lead out and I'm really happy with my second victory at Tour de Romandie.

“It maybe looked easy in the final but it was not so easy,” he explained. “With two kilometres to go I knew the guys had something left in the tank to catch Malori ahead. Tony Martin took me to the last 600 or 700 metres; it was perfect.

“As for tomorrow, I'm going to help the boys now,” Meersman added. “Before coming here I had three stages in mind. The first stage I won, then yesterday I was third, and today I won again. So, I am happy."

Race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) was comfortably in the peloton behind Meersman, along with the rest of the overall contenders. The only change to the top of the general classification saw Meersman move up to third place thanks to bonus seconds awarded on the line.

The 181km stage’s main break came from Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing), Steven Kruijswijk (Blanco), Julien Bérard (AG2R La Mondiale), Kévin Reza (Europcar), Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) and Pello Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi), who got away after 30km. The six riders were only able to get a maximum of 4’15” clear on the rolling course, which was based on three different loops around the Payerne area, and were caught with just under 50km still to race.

There were no more successful attacks until Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and Simone Stortoni (Lampre-Merida) managed to escape on the 3rd category Côte de Châbles with 18km to go. This sparked a series of counterattacks, notably from Kruijswijk and Dominik Nerz (BMC Racing), but the peloton was back together with 12km to go.

As a late, unclassified climb began a kilometre later, however, there was another attack from Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) with Wilco Kelderman (Blanco). They were pursued by Moreno Moser (Cannondale) and Carlos Betancur (AG2R La Mondiale), and Malori with Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), but Team Sky quickly shut down all the attacks.

Malori then attacked again with seven kilometres left and managed to get a gap of almost ten seconds. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and Sébastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling) tried to get across to the Italian, but Omega Pharma-Quick Step had taken control of the peloton and soon shut them down.

Malori managed to hold off the Belgian team until 450 metres to go, however, but as swamped as those sprinters left in the peloton dashed for the line.

An overall contender gets away in the break

The stage began with the usual flurry of failed attacks until, finally Burghardt, Kruijswijk, Bérard, Reza and Brändle finally got away. Bilbao just noticed the move in time and managed to join the other five riders as they began to move clear of the peloton. Kruijswijk was the best placed of the breakaway, just 31 seconds behind Froome in 19th place, but Team Sky allowed the group to get 4’21” clear by the time they crossed the finish line for the first time after 58.3km.

The break’s lead dropped to 2’52” at Lucens after 86km, but was allowed to grow to 4’13” again over the 2nd category climb to Villars-le-Comte. With Astana joining Team Sky at the head of the peloton it began to come down steadily until, on the second passage of the finish line with 53.2km to go, it was down to just 1’29”.

Just five kilometres later the break was over as the Astana and Sky-led peloton swept by on the 3rd category climb to Sassel.

Shortly before the intermediate sprint, in Yvonand with 24.5km to go, Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack-Leopard) attacked; the Austrian was clear as he took the points across the line, but was soon back in the fold as the Movistar team brought the peloton back up to him.

With 18km to go, on the 3rd category climb to Châbles, Gasparotto attacked, was joined by Stortoni, and the two Italians were ten seconds clear as they crested the top. There was then a flurry of counterattacks as successive riders riders tried to bridge to the new leaders; Nerz and Kruijswijk almost made it across, but all four riders were back in the peloton with 12km to go.

Onto the final unclassified climb with 10km to go Majka and Kelderman escaped. They were chased by Moser and Betancur, and Malori and Martin, but once again Team Sky closed down the attacks before they could get too far.

Malori then went again with seven kilometres to go, however, and, with the Italian no danger overall, Team Sky sat up. Omega Pharma-Quick Step then picked up the chase and set about closing down the Italian, but he was still ahead as he passed under the flamme rouge, and wasn’t caught until 450 metres to go.

Albasini then launched his sprint along the left hand barrier, but Meersman was too fast for him and sped by to take his second stage.

Result stage 3
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Team Astana
3. Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
5. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
6. Daniel Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9. Reinardt Janse van Rensberg (RSA) Argos-Shimano
10. Xavier Florencio (Spa) Katusha Team

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


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