Tour de Wallonie: Gianni Meersman finishes second in the GC
Etixx – Quick-Step leaves the race with two stage wins and the green jersey.
July is about to end and it can be easily considered as one of Etixx – Quick-Step’s best months of the season, as the team scored six victories (four of which came in the World Tour) across three races: Tour de France, Tour de Pologne and Tour de Wallonie. Most recently, our outfit enjoyed success on home turf, at the Tour de Wallonie, where Tom Boonen and Matteo Trentin scored a win apiece, while Gianni Meersman came second in the standings after a remarkable consistency shown throughout the week.
The 30-year-old Belgian started the final stage of the event (Engis – Dison, 188 kilometers) in the yellow jersey and was protected by his teammates, as Etixx – Quick-Step controlled with a strong grip the nine-man break, which didn’t get too much room, as well as the attacks which came on the final lap, when several riders tried to put pressure on the leader. David De La Cruz and Matteo Trentin (who claimed the green jersey at the end of the day) kept everything together until the final climb – Côte de Val Fassotte (1400 meters, 5.8%) – where Dries Devenyns (IAM Cycling) put in a fierce acceleration and gapped his opponents.
Despite a powerful and organized chase, the Belgian went on to take the victory on the uphill drag to the finish, ahead of Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal) and Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-RusVelo), and thanks to the bonus seconds, also the general classification, with a 5-second margin over Gianni, the 2014 champion, who finished on the Tour de Wallonie podium for the second time in his career, following the 2012 edition.
“The team was very strong today and worked really hard, keeping me sheltered and in a good position, but on the last ascent, Dries Devenyns was just stronger than me and although I did everything in my power, it wasn’t enough to keep the jersey”, Gianni Meersman said soon after concluding the race. “I am disappointed now, but I will try to take the positives out of this week and carry my good form into the next race, Vuelta a Burgos (ed. – August 2-6).”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele