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"I was not expecting this second consecutive victory. Last week I was sick.I had stomach problems. I could almost not get on my bike. The last two days it was ok but to win is something else."

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele










12.08.2014 @ 22:50 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the second year in a row, Gianni Meersman won the Tour de l'Ain prologue when he led a dominant Omega Pharma-Quick Step performance that saw the team claim the first four places. The win came as a big surprise for the Belgian as he was sick last week.


Gianni Meersman won the Tour de l'Ain prologue for the second straight year with a time of 5 minutes and 22 seconds, as Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team swept the first four positions of the 4.6km race in Saint-Amour. Julian Alaphilippe was 2nd (+02"), Pieter Serry 3rd (+03"), and Rigoberto Uran finished 4th (+03").

Not to miss out on the domination, Mark Cavendish (+08") was also 9th in his first race back since his Stage 1 crash at the Tour de France. Carlos Verona (+13") was 17th.

The OPQS quadruple sweep came at the heels of an Eneco Tour Stage victory by Czech Road Champion Zdenek Stybar on the same day. OPQS now has 51 road victories, 53 in total, in 2014.

OPQS will be quite colorful in the 150.2km first stage tomorrow. Meersman will be in the yellow jersey as overall leader, Alaphilippe will wear the white (best young rider) jersey, and Pieter Serry will race in the green (points) jersey.


"I was not expecting this second consecutive victory," Meersman said. "Last week I was sick.I had stomach problems. I could almost not get on my bike. The last two days it was ok but to win is something else. 


"TodayI felt good. It's true that I would have preferred a more technical course, but I won so I'm really happy. In addition, we took the first four places.

"I am really happy because this morning I thought about this exact result. I thought about how I won this stage last year and, why not, I can try to win it again. A time trial is a fight against yourself. It's a question of how deep you want to go. Today, I really wanted to do well.


"The course was different from last year in that it was not so technical, but the last 500 meters were uphill. I think that section is where I won the race. I am also thrilled because we finished 1st through 4th, which means the team here is really motivated and strong.


"This morning, with Davide Bramati our Sport Director, we rode along the parcours five times and trained almost two hours on the TT bike. The training with our Specialized Shivs paid off in the afternoon, so we are happy. It's a great team result. We're here with six strong guys.


"Tomorrow we will try to defend my leader's jersey. It won't be easy with six riders instead of eight, but that's the same problem for everybody in the peloton. We'll do our best to figure out how to defend my leadership in the best way possible.


"For the general classification, we'll see but it is too hard for me, especially the last two days. We have to take the race in hand but with no stress. Today's win. We can't lose what we have already gained so we will try to keep the jersey in the team. The next few days I will surely play my card."


"I liked this course," Alphilippe said. "We took time to do a recon. We did the circuit five or six times in training to be able to do the corners faster during the race. I have had a good yeat. I have become stronger over the yeats so it's interesting for future prologues. More than with my results, I am very happy with the performance of the team.


"I feel good right now. In the Tour de Wallonie, we worked hard for Gianni (Meerman) who won the last stage and the overall classification. I felt good Sunday at RideLondon Classic (3rd).  We have a complete team at the Tour de l'Ain, with sprinters, climbers. I'm here to help. If I have an opportunity, I will of coursetry to do my best."


"It's a great day for the team," Serry said. "I did not expect to finish third today as it was quite short and I'm not explosive. I surprised myself. 


"I'm very happy. It was a beautiful course, very fast, but not too technical. After 900 meters, we all jumped over the traffic island. It may have made the difference. In the Belgian championships, I was third in a longer time TT. I hope I do not always finish third but will one day take a win. We'll see in the coming days, but I hope to achieve a good GC result."
"I'm very happy," sports director Davide Bramati said. "I'm here to motivate the riders and it worked. We had to win and we did. We came here because it's a good race to restart the season. We had a good 2-hourt workout on the TT bike this morning. The riders did five laps of the circuit before the start. 


"In the first corner, the riders did not go around the traffic island but jumped over it. They went faster and I think it made the difference. We took risks but the riders have listened to me and saw that it worked. When you are focused, it's not dangerous. 


"Everyone did a recon of the the route. They did well. Today we showed that we are strong. But you know, if you turn left and right instead of jumping, it takes time. That's what made the difference. Now we the world will look at us. We'll see what we can do."



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