Tour de l'Ain Prologue: Quadruple Sweep! Meersman Wins, OPQS 1-4, Five in Top 10
Gianni Meersman won the Tour de l'Ain prologue for the second straight year with a time of 5 minutes and 22 seconds, as Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team swept the first four positions of the 4.6km race in Saint-Amour. Julian Alaphilippe was 2nd (+02"), Pieter Serry 3rd (+03"), and Rigoberto Uran finished 4th (+03").
Not to miss out on the domination, Mark Cavendish (+08") was also 9th in his first race back since his Stage 1 crash at the Tour de France. Carlos Verona (+13") was 17th.
The OPQS quadruple sweep came at the heels of an Eneco Tour Stage victory by Czech Road Champion Zdenek Stybar on the same day. OPQS now has 51 road victories, 53 in total, in 2014.
OPQS will be quite colorful in the 150.2km first stage tomorrow. Meersman will be in the yellow jersey as overall leader, Alaphilippe will wear the white (best young rider) jersey, and Pieter Serry will race in the green (points) jersey.
"I am really happy because this morning I thought about this exact result," Meersman said. "I thought about how I won this stage last year and, why not, I can try to win it again. A time trial is a fight against yourself. It's a question of how deep you want to go. Today, I really wanted to do well. The course was different from last year in that it was not so technical, but the last 500 meters were uphill. I think that section is where I won the race. I am also thrilled because we finished 1st through 4th, which means the team here is really motivated and strong. This morning, with Davide Bramati our Sport Director, we rode along the parcours five times and trained almost two hours on the TT bike. The training with our Specialized Shivs paid off in the afternoon, so we are happy. It's a great team result. We're here with six strong guys. Tomorrow we will try to defend my leader's jersey. It won't be easy with six riders instead of eight, but that's the same problem for everybody in the peloton. We'll do our best to figure out how to defend my leadership in the best way possible."