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"The condition is not too bad. I will now try to aim for the general classification. We have a very strong team and two cards with Gianni Meersman," Stybar says

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele








28.07.2014 @ 19:49 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Omega Pharma-Quick Step find themselves in a great position in the Tour de Wallonie as they have two cards to play for the overall standings. Today they made use of their strength in numbers when Zdenek Stybar launched a late attack and when he was brought back, Gianni Meersman extended his overall leading by sprinting to his third consecutive second place.


Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team didn't just sit back and control the race for the 174.1km Stage 3 of Tour de Wallonie on Monday. With Gianni Meersman in yellow after two consecutive 2nd place finishes in bunch sprints, OPQS first kept the original breakaway from gaining too much of a gap — catching them within 10km to go in the stage — Zdenek Stybar also went on the attack after staying on the wheel of an attacking Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) with just a few kilometers remaining.


Stybar gained as much as an 11" gap on the field with Meersman waiting in case he was caught, which forced the peloton to scramble and try and bring him back as he could potentially win the stage solo, and if he gained more time he could even keep the leader's jersey with the team.


Stybar was caught with a few hundred meters to go, leaving it up to Meersman to sprint and defend his GC leadership from the bunch. Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) launched early and had a big enough gap to with the stage easily. However, Meersman put in a huge effort to get his third consecutive 2nd place at Tour de Wallonie and protect his yellow jersey. Meersman caught and passed several riders for the second step of the podium. Meersman, who also gained some seconds in an intermediate sprint during the race, increased his GC leadership to 11" due to bonus seconds at the finish line. Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing Team) was 3rd. 

OPQS looks next to 174.9km Stage 4, from Herve to Waremme, on Tuesday.


"You had to be careful in the beginning of the stage," Meersman told Directvelo. "Firstly because the rain had made the roads slippery but also because some teams targeted the bonus seconds in the first sprint. This sprint was pretty special because it was uphill and located in a turn.


"After that, the race slowed down and a breakaway took off. My team then had to work all day. We also had to ride in the finale because we did not want a group to create a surprise. 


"The finish in Neufchâteau was not easy. Especially not after such a hilly stage. I am pleased to be able to keep my yellow jersey even if the stage victory again escaped me. I am also satisfied because I gained more time on my closest rivals."


"My team rode all day," Stybar told Directvelo. "So I decided to try my luck five kilometers from the finish. I was hoping to have more riders with me. I found myself with Kohler from BMC. 


"Unfortunately, the stage was 500m too long for me to win. It was a great opportunity for me. The condition is not too bad. I will now try to aim for the general classification. We have a very strong team and two cards with Gianni Meersman."



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