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"We rode flat out. But they’ve been very strong at the front. Tony Martin rode as fast as he could but at the end, only Michal Kwiatkowski could stay with me and we couldn’t do any better," Meersman says

Photo: Sirotti






07.06.2013 @ 17:45 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Gianni Meersman used all of his Omega Pharma-Quick Step resources in an attempt to chase down the strong breakaway in today's 6th stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné but ultimately the mission failed and he had to settle for 6th. Despite hard work by riders like Tony Martin and Sylvain Chavanel, they were unable to bring back the escapees, and Meersman admitted afterwards that his team could not have done anything more.


Prior to today's 6th stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné, Gianni Meersman was marked out as a possible winner due to the likely sprint finish. However, the Belgian hoped to see a hard race that could tire out the pure sprinters and leave him as the fastest rider in the end.


However, the stage ended up being too hard as the team used up all its domestiques too early and nothing left to chase down the day's break from which Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) emerged as the day's winner. When Tony Martin, Sylvain Chavanel and Pieter Serry had no more energy left with 20km to go, Meersman only had the team's GC rider Michal Kwiatkowski to support him and the Pole had to close a 1.10 gap on the final descent to the finish.


The stage had been extremely hard - the riders covered 50km during the first hour - and the successful break only went clear on the category 1 Col du Barioz at the midpoint of the 143km stage. The strength of the break forced Omega Pharma-Quick Step to chase immediately and while they were successful in dropping most of the sprinters, the stage ended up being too hard also for Meersman's teammates.


Meersman had to admit that the breakaway had simply been too strong.


"Today it’s been much harder than I expected", he observed. "It took a long time for the breakaway to take shape. We started chasing as early as in the col du Barioz. We rode flat out. But they’ve been very strong at the front. Tony Martin rode as fast as he could but at the end, only Michal Kwiatkowski could stay with me and we couldn’t do any better. I was confident that I’d sprint for the stage win and at the end, it was only for fifth place."


Meersman extended his lead in the battle for the green jersey as he took 5 points as the winner of the intermediate sprint early in the stage and took another 5 points at the finish line. However, he only leads Chris Froome by 13 points and with two tough mountain stages coming up in the weekend, he knows that it will be difficult to win the coveted jersey.


"It’s going to be tiny for winning the green jersey even though I’ve won the hot spot sprint," he said. "It was my last chance for a stage win but at least we’ve showed that we’re competitive.”


Meersman will settle into a domestique role for Kwiatkowski in tomorrow's queen stage during which the riders will climb the famous Alpe d'Huez. Starting at 12.45, you can follow the action on



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