AMGEN Tour of California Stage 4: Meersman on the Podium in Santa Barbara
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Gianni Meersman was 3rd in the 134.7km Stage 4 of AMGEN Tour of California on Wednesday, being escorted to the front in the final kilometers, and then launching his sprint off the wheel of Sylvain Chavanel.
Chavanel was also 8th. Meersman launched up the middle of the peloton, but he couldn't get past Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) in front of him as Farrar went on to win. Ken Hanson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) was 2nd.
Chavanel put in a lot of work in the final 10km to help chase down several attacks, as OPQS was still able to establish good sprint position against other leadout trains with more riders. OPQS is down three riders due to injuries or dehydration.
A six rider breakaway was brought back together, including one last solo rider, inside 11km to go.
OPQS looks next to a 186.5km Stage 5 on Thursday, which includes a Cat. 2 climb (San Marcos Pass) early in the stage. The final kilometers are descending or slightly undulating. There is a narrow left turn in the final 300m and a slight rise in the final meters.
"We turned right in the last kilometer and then went across the ocean, but the wind came from the left and all the riders were on the right so it was quite hectic," Meersman said. "But Chava did a great job getting me into good position. At the moment he launched, Farrar also went, so I had to pass Chavanel and also try to move up past Farrar. So to get 3rd in this situation, I am happy with it. I'm hoping to win a stage. I still have two chances. Tomorrow there's a little uphill finish and then there's also the last stage on Sunday. My legs are good, the team is good and I'd really like to do my best for a victory."