Tour de Romandie Stage 1: Meersman Emerges From Chaotic Final Victorious
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team Sport Director Brian Holm said on Tuesday that Gianni Meersman is showing his good condition, particularly after finishing 24th on a Tour de Romandie mountain prologue despite being known more for his sprinting prowess.
Holm's comments were a reality at the end of the 176.8km Tour de Romandie Stage 1. As the race came back together inside the final 10km, OPQS sent riders to the front to protect Meersman and put him in the best position for the finish. Cavendish was not spotted in the bunch going into the final kilometers because of a mechanical at the bottom of the last climb. Despite an attack by Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) that was brought back with 1.5km to go, it was clear the peloton was completely unorganized in preparation for the bunch sprint. It was up to OPQS, and some smart maneuvering by Meersman, to put him in place for a win.
Meersman waited until the perfect moment with less than 400m to go, launching on the left side off another rider's wheel in a chaotic final to win the stage. The win was also his third victory in 2013, and the 22nd for OPQS in three disciplines. Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack-Leopard) was 2nd, Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) 3rd.
"It was a difficult stage," Meersman said. "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. Unfortunately Mark had a mechanical and at that point we went for me. I was a little bit closed at 400 meters to go, but I managed to stay in the front. Peter Velits brought me to the wheel of Matthew Goss (Orica Green-EDGE) 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. 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."
"Everything went well today," Holm said. "The team worked really well together. We had to save Gianluca Brambilla and Tony Martin. Grabsch stayed with Cav, which was the plan, and the rest of the team was really committed to go for the win. We said already yesterday that we had two cards to play, Cav and Gianni. Cav had a mechanical at the bottom of the last climb, so we went for Gianni. Gianni finalized perfectly the job of the team."