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.more information
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 then 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. This move forced the peloton to scramble so they could bring him back, as he could potentially win the stage solo. If the Czech Road Champion gained more time he could even keep the leader's jersey with the team.
Styby 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.
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step never hesitated to keep fighting after losing Mark Cavendish following a Stage 1 crash at the Tour de France. The Belgian based cycling team with an international impact still managed to earn three victories, and also be protagonists in every stage. Stage 21 in Paris was no exception.
Mark Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi finished 5th and 8th in the traditional bunch sprint finish, with Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) beating out Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) for the win of the 137.5km final stage. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp) was 3rd.
Vincenzo Nibali won the 101st edition of the Tour de France by 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Jan Bakelants was the top GC finisher for OPQS, in 24th place (+1:06:28).
Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) launched the first attack of the stage with 54km to go, but it was Richie Porte (Team Sky) — who attacked out of an original four-rider escape group — who had to be pulled back by the peloton with 7.4km to go just before the bell rung for the last lap. Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) attacked out of the peloton in the final kilometers, but the peloton was simply too determined for the bunch sprint to give him room to stay away for long.
Giant-Shimano, Lotto-Belisol, Garmin-Sharp, Cannondale, and OPQS all battled on the front for position. Going into the final kilometer a bit of control was lost on the front, and it came down to Kristoff and Kittel for the victory.
The three stage wins for OPQS included Matteo Trentin winning Stage 7 by the depth of a tire, Tony Martin winning the first Tour de France road stage of his career solo in Stage 9, and the dominating ITT victory of Martin in Stage 20. He won by more than a minute and a half.more information
OPQS rider Gianni Meersman finished 2nd for the second day in a row. In the second stage of the Tour de Wallonie he was beaten by Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek), but that was enough to take over the overall lead.
Just as in the first stage the day`s breakaway animated a large part of the stage. The opened up a maximum lead of 7 minutes and 45 seconds. The peloton didn`t panic and closed the gap slowly. With 18 kilometres to go all was back together just before the final intermediate sprint, which was won by Meersman.
In the final sprint Nizzolo outsprinted Meersman, who finished 2nd just like yesterday. After the stage Meersman was rewarded with the yellow leaders jersey.more information
OPQS rider Gianni Meersman opened the Tour de Wallonie with a 2nd place. During the bunch sprint of the first stage he was beaten by Belgian champion Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol).
The stage from Frasnes-lez-Anvaing to Tournai (147,9 km) was animated by a group of 3 riders. They attacked after 15 kilometres and got a maximum advantage of almost 8 minutes. At 22 kilometres from the finish the escapees were reeled in however.
In the final kilometres OPQS was at the front of the bunch with Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Lotto-Belisol to prepare the bunch sprint. Debusschere just outsprinted OPQS rider Meersman. Juan José Lobato (Movistar) finished 3rd.more information