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"The green jersey is a great achievement, but I really would have liked to win a stage because that is the only thing missing for me in this Critérium du Dauphiné."

Photo: Sirotti

CRITERIUM DU DAUPHINE

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GIANNI MEERSMAN

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QUICK-STEP - ALPHA VINYL

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09.06.2013 @ 18:12 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider Gianni Meersman had one purpose by making an original 24 rider breakaway of a cold, foggy, and rainy Critérium du Dauphine Stage 8: Take the intermediate sprint, and expand his points classification lead.

Meersman won the intermediate sprint at the 96km mark of the 155.5km stage, giving him a total of 49 points. This meant Christopher Froome (Sky) - in the yellow jersey - would have to win the stage to take the green jersey, while Meersman merely had to finish within the time cut.

Froome came close, taking 2nd place as Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) won the stage solo from the breakaway Meersman was involved in earlier. Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) was 3rd on the day.

Meersman drifted back once his work was finished and finished within the time cut.

De Marchi had caught Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), and then passed him on the Category 1 climb to the finish. Montee de Risoul was a 13.9km climb at a 6.7% average gradient. While the peloton chased behind De Marchi, the yellow jersey group continued to decrease in number, eventually dwindling down to less than 30 riders, and getting smaller and smaller with each passing kilometre.

With 1.8km to go and the gap down to 46", Froome and Richie Porte (Sky) left the rest of the peloton behind in pursuit. Froome also dropped Porte for a brief time, but Porte worked his way back. Talansky made an appearance just before the line with Porte, and was able to get a podium placing on the day.

Meersman bested Froome for the points jersey by two points.

"I am happy about my green jersey," Meersman said. “I knew this morning I had to enter in the breakaway to get the points. It was the only way to win the jersey and then I also had to wait for the final result, because if Froome was the winner I would have lost the jersey. I did what I was supposed to do - I entered and arrived with the points. Then in the final I was there, sitting at the back and waiting. With 1km to go I heard Froome was 2nd, so I was happy I won the points classification. The green jersey is a great achievement, but I really would have liked to win a stage. Because that is the only thing missing for me in this Critérium du Dauphiné. I was always there, always at the top of the best riders in the bunch for the sprints. But I didn't have the victories. I would have liked to add one win, but it was not possible. So I have to be happy for the good results."

Meersman said he was happy with his consistency throughout the race.

"This season I really showed that I can be one of the most regular guys in the peloton, which is also important for me," Meersman said. "Now I go home and on Wednesday I fly to Calpe to train under the sun and will come back Monday evening next week. I do this because of the national championship approaching. Wearing the Belgian National Champion jersey would be like a dream. I checked the parcour two weeks ago and think it's nice, even a bit hard maybe, but really nice. The race depends also on how the peloton will ride. But honestly I hope to try to maintain the condition I had here at the Dauphiné. I can probably do something good but I go to the national championship without any stress, and I will take what is possible."

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