Meersman sprints to third in Handzame Classic
Riding on home turf, the 30-year-old Belgian notched his first podium of the season.
Just as Wednesday's Nokere Koerse, also Handzame Classic (199 kilometers) had a fast start, because of which more than one hour passed until several riders finally got away: Marcin Bialoblocki (ONE Pro Cycling), Markus Hoelgaard (Joker), Gianni Marchand (Cibel-Cebon), Daniel Patten (Team Wiggins), Michael Reihs (Stolting Service Group), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Rob Ruijgh (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) were the ones to get a 1:20 gap, which they kept until 25 kilometers to go. All of these, except Bialoblocki, were reeled in by the peloton, the Pole managing to remain in the lead for a couple of minutes more.
With only 7 kilometers left, on the flat roads taking to Handzame, riders from Nippo-Vini Fantini and Lotto-Soudal tried a late attack, but Etixx – Quick-Step didn't give them any space, so the race concluded with a sprint, which was won by Erik Baska (Tinkoff), just ahead of Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo). Victorious at the previous edition of Handzame Classic, Gianni Meersman was again among the protagonists: helped by his teammates, who pulled hard in the closing kilometers of the one-day race, the Belgian put in a strong sprint at the end, which helped him come third.
"It wasn't easy out there, because it was cold and windy today. The boys did a fantastic job and brought me in a good position with 300 meters to go. I am happy with my shape and with this result, which serves as a confirmation of my work in the past months", said Gianni Meersman after his first podium of the year.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele