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"I know that I started my sprint very early but that's because I want to score bonus seconds. If I had not been in this jersey, I would have waited a little longer," Meersman says

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele






30.07.2014 @ 00:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

For the fourth day in a row, Gianni Meersman finished second in a stage of the Tour de Wallonie and he admits to being very frustrated about the missing stage victory. However, he claims to be paying the price for his focus on the GC which requires him to focus more on bonus seconds than wins.


OPQS rider Gianni Meersman was about half a wheel short of a victory on Tuesday, earning his 4th 2nd place finish in four Tour de Wallonie Stages in the bunch sprint finale of 174.9km Stage 4.


Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) won the stage with a bike throw, catching Meersman in the final 50 meters of the sprint that was led into on a wide road, with the peloton spread across the road battling for position. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) was 3rd.


OPQS worked all day at the front keeping the original breakaway controlled. The race came back together with 24km to go, but the peloton was far from finished with its threats to the yellow jersey of Meersman. A three rider escape group was brought back with about 18km to go in the stage, but the last rider from that group was caught with 11km to go. More attacks followed, including a solo effort of Gijs van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), but OPQS put all riders on the front in support of Meersman and even he was reeled in as the peloton raced toward the final kilometer.


Zdenek Stybar helped lead out the sprint, and Meersman launched inside the top 5 positions of the field. 


Meersman now leads the GC by 20" thanks to bonus seconds earned. OPQS looks to the final, 184km stage from Malmedy to Ans, on Wednesday.


"Well, that's how it is," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "On one hand, I am disappointed because I was second again. On the other hand, I must be satisfied that I have a tighter grip on the yellow jersey. I know that I started my sprint very early but that's because I want to score bonus seconds. If I had not been in this jersey, I would have waited a little longer. Now I get these questions. Of course I would rather have won today but that's okay. It's the price.


"My condition is good. I really hope that I can win overall. I'm surrounded by a very strong team. Andrew Fenn controlled the race from start to finish. It is unbelievable what this guy has done. I will do everything to try to win the overall tomorrow. Maybe there are better climbers in the peloton, but fortunately I have built a solid lead."


"Four stages, four times second," he added to Directvelo. "I may be the best but the result is clear: no victory. I must still be satisfied that I managed to keep my yellow jersey.


"Again, my team was great. A guy like Andrew Fenn was impressive. We never panicked and we always rode tempo on the climbs. Nevertheless, it was a difficult day with the rain. And then there were a lot of steep hills and that is not my cup of tea. 


"Regarding the sprint, I believe that there was a crasj in the last hundred meters. I started my sprint at two hundred meters to go without looking back. I was leading and in the end I missed just a few centimeters to win. I did not feel Tom Van Asbroeck coming back. He managed to pass me.


"With this second place, I confirm my leadership. I'm confident for tomorrow and I'll be able to rely on my teammates."



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