La Vuelta a España Stage 4: Meersman Top 5
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Gianni Meersman worked his way to the front in the final kilometers of another uphill finish at La Vuelta a España on Tuesday, but a well timed attack by Daniel Moreno (Katusha) could not be brought back in time for a bunch sprint finale.
Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard) was 2nd and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) was 3rd, with Meersman close behind in the 4th stage. Serge Pauwels of OPQS was also 14th in the stage.
The stage also included a brutal climb in the final kilometers, which included ramps of close to 30%. OPQS did the maximum to bring Meersman back into good position so he could contend the finish.
"There was a very hard climb with 35km to go," Meersman said. "I was a little bit behind because of that, but the guys did a great job bringing me back. Then I was in good position for the last 2 kilometers, it was steep but the guys brought me to the wheel of Boasson Hagen. Then, at 500 meters to go, Moreno went. Then, Cancellara went after him. Boasson Hagen started to sprint. At 200 meters I passed him, and then with 100 meters to go Matthews passed me. So, I was 4th. It was quite a hard day and the finish was really hard. Congratulations to Moreno who was super strong. I was sprinting in a 53-12 behind him and that was with a little bit of uphill. So, he was clearly the best today and he deserves the victory. But I'm happy with my shape and I hope to try again to win a stage."
OPQS looks next to a 174.3km Stage 5 on Wednesday. There is no uphill finale this time. The finish is undulating, but descends into a flat final meters.