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"In tomorrow's stage, we will go into the mountains. So it will be my turn to help and work for my teammates and try to give them back all the help they gave me during these first two stages," Meersman says

Photo: OPQS / Tim de Waele






19.03.2013 @ 20:22 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

After a disappointing Paris-Nice, Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is now on a roll and took his second consecutive victory in today's second stage of the Volta a Catalunya. Having been perfectly supported by his team, he now looks to pay back the hard work by slotting into a domestique role in tomorrow's mountain stage.


When Gianni Meersman left Lotto-Belisol in controversial circumstances during the off-season, his new team Omega Pharma-Quick Step team had confidence that they now had an extra weapon to target select stages in hard WorldTour stage races. With another impressive sprint victory, the Belgian has proved worthy of that trust right from the early part of the season.


The victory was, however, in no way a one-man effort. Like yesterday, Carlos Verona and Julien Vermote did a tremendous job to control the day's early breakaway and in the final, sprinter Andrew Fenn proved his worth as a lead-out man by assuming control of the peloton for most of the final kilometer. Meersman used that impressive preparation to open up an early sprint from a long way back and power clear of Daniele Ratto (Cannondale) on the uphill finishing straight.


Meersman underlined the team aspect of the victory as he commented on another brilliant sprint performance.


"Even today it was a great sprint," he said. "It was a great day for the team. At the beginning we did not expect a lot of support from other teams which is quite normal. But just as it was yesterday, the team was really strong. We managed to control the race. The final circuit was nervous, but we were always on the front controlling."


"Then I have to say the team did a great job in the last 2 kilometers. Dries (Devenyns, ed.) did a great thing closing the gap on two Blanco riders off the front, and then Andy Fenn led me to the 200 meter point. It was perfect, so I came out from the bunch and I did my sprint and I won, so I am glad I was able to win again for me and the team. In this team, everyone knows their job, and it's marvelous and super to ride with each and everyone."


Repeat performance

Yesterday's victory ended a long drought since his last triumph in the 2012 edition of the Paris-Nice. With two consecutive wins, he has  finally brought to an end a difficult period, and the repeat aspect means that today's win carries special importance.


"Even for me personally it was a great moment in my career," he explained. "It's the first time I've won two races in a row. It's really a special feeling after all the sacrifices I have done in my career. I am also  happy for my family. I haven't seen them often because of the races, but I am sure they will enjoy with me this moment."


Domestique role

With his victory, Meersman extended his overall lead and now sits 14 seconds ahead of Valerio Agnoli (Astana). However, the first mountains stage looms in the hortizon, and the Belgian knows that his time in the spotlight has come to an end.


"In tomorrow's stage, we will go into the mountains," he said. "So it will be my turn to help and work for my teammates and try to give them back all the help they gave me during these first two stages."


That service will be provided to another of Omega Pharma-Quick Step's new signings, Gianluca Brambilla, who will try to go for a high overall placing. If he is to realize that objective, he has to be among the best in tomorrow's stage which ends on top of a 12 km climb with an average gradient of 7,8%.


Starting at 15.15, you can follow all the action from that big mountain battle on



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