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"I'm also happy about my regularity. This year I'm trying to be a good level in all the races I do, and for the moment the work is paying off. Tomorrow we will try again. It seems to be a good stage for my skills, but let's...

Photo: OPQS / Tim de Waele

CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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GIANNI MEERSMAN

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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02.06.2013 @ 18:35 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) came close to his fifth WorldTour win this season when he won the peloton's sprint for second on the first stage of the Criterim du Dauphiné. Despite his missed opportunity, the Belgian was happy to continue his consistency in a season that has seen him be at the head of affairs in all major WorldTour stage races he has entered.

 

Gianni Meersman was one of the pre-race favourites for today's first stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné as the lumpy course and long gradual category 3 climb up towards the finish line was perfectly suited to the Belgian's abilities as a fast finisher and good climber. However, he had to settle for second despite a hugely convincing win in the peloton's sprint as the main group was unable to reel back the lone David Veilleux (Europcar).

 

While sprinters like Thor Hushovd (BMC) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) both struggled on the climbs, Meersman once again proved that he is much more than just a fast man. He recently finished 15th in the queen stage of the Tour of California and today he was never far away from the front of the peloton despite the tough climbs along the route.

 

Nonetheless, his team chose not to deliver a concerted chase effort to bring back the day's early escapees and instead sent world time trial Tony Martin up the road. The world time trial champion was looking for training prior to the Tour and if he could catch the day's early break, his potential as a GC threat would force the other teams to do the chase work.

 

The mission failed as the German never got up to the front group and instead Meersman had to be content with 2nd. Nonetheless, he was glad to see his legs respond well after having been out of competition since the Californian race which finished two weeks ago.

 

"First of all let me congratulate Veilleux," he said. "He did a great ride today and he deserves the victory. He was the strongest. Concerning me, I felt good the entire day so at the end I decided to go for the sprint for the 2nd place with the help of my teammates. I'm happy about my shape. After AMGEN Tour of California I trained at home in Belgium."

 

Meersman had been one of the season's standout performers, notching up two stage wins in both the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie. He showed glimpses of his potential while at Lotto-Belisol last season but he is happy to now show much greater consistency.

 

He aims to show off that consistency in tomorrow's classics-like stage which finishes with an 11,5km descent from the top of the day's final category 2 climb and could very well end in a sprint from a reduced bunch.

 

"I'm also happy about my regularity," he said. "This year I'm trying to be a good level in all the races I do, and for the moment the work is paying off. Tomorrow we will try again. It seems to be a good stage for my skills, but let's see."

 

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