Tuesday 22 March 2016 - 18:13

Volta a Catalunya: Meersman, runner-up in Olot

Volta a Catalunya: Meersman, runner-up in Olot

Our Belgian rider came second on Tuesday, while Maxime Bouet made his way to the top 10 of the general classification.

Stage 2 of Volta a Catalunya (Mataro – Olot, 178.7 km) began with a minute's silence in memory of the Brussels terror attack victims, and with several riders wearing black armbands to show their solidarity and compassion to the ones who were affected by the incidents which took place on Tuesday morning. After the start was given, four riders booked a place in the escape: Maxime Bouet, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Boris Dron (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Kamil Gradek (Verva Active Jet).

On a day with just two categorized climbs and a finish suited to the ones with a fast kick, the peloton wasn't willing to let the four take too much of a gap and allowed them to open just a three-minute advantage. Maxime, who is in his second season with Etixx – Quick-Step, was very active in the break, taking long pulls at the front and going for bonus seconds at both intermediate sprints, before the group was brought back by the peloton led by Movistar and Sky.

In the final kilometers, Etixx – Quick-Step came to the head of the pack, helping Gianni Meersman find the best position to kick his sprint in the last 250 meters. Gianni, who came in Spain after notching a podium in last week's Handzame Classic, showed again his improving form, by finishing runner-up to Nacer Bouhanni, who landed his second victory in a row at the Volta a Catalunya. Besides Meersman, also Maxime Bouet had reasons to be satisfied after Tuesday's stage, because thanks to the bonus seconds he scored at the intermediate sprints, he made an important jump in the general classification, climbing to 6th place.

"Despite having big roads, the last 20 kilometers were pretty nervous, because of the road tunnels. The guys brought me to the front with 4 kilometers to go, and inside the final 1500 meters a right hand corner came up, and that's where I took Bouhanni's wheel. When he launched his sprint, I tried to pass him, but he was really strong. I finished second, but there was nothing more I could do, so I am happy with this result and with the great job of the team", said Gianni Meersman after the arrival in Olot.

Stage 3 of the race will depart from Girona and will take the peloton to La Molina, for a day which will see them face four climbs: Alt de Coubet (10 km, 5.5% average), Alt de Toses (6.3 km, 7% average) and Alt de La Molina (11.1 km, 4.5% average), which will be tackled twice. The final ascent has a maximum ramp of 8% and will provide the climbers with a chance of shaking up the general classification.


Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele

Keep up to date on our social media channel