Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) came home in third place on stage 5 of the Vuelta a Espana on Wednesday, after an alliance between the headline sprint teams of the race doomed any breakaway chances and a battle of the sprinters ensued.
Meersman started his sprint from the wheel of stage winner, Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge), but was unable to come around the Australian and ended up finishing in third with Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) claiming second on the stage.
Meersman credited his teammates for their work in chasing the breakaway and piloting him through the last five kilometres.
"It was another hard finish today," said Meersman. "Once again the team perfectly put me in the best position for the sprint. We took our responsibility also to catch the breakaway. In the last five kilometres Martin, Pieter Serry and Zdenek Stybar piloted me, then at 600 meters to go I was on the wheel of Matthews."
Despite timing his sprint well, Meersman was unable to overhaul the young Australian who took the win comfortably.
"I waited for the right moment to go and when I decided to launch my sprint Matthews also went and I couldn't really pass him,” continued Meersman. "The timing for the sprint was perfect, but he was just stronger than me today. Yesterday I finished in 4th place, today I was 3rd."
Having finished both the Tour de Romandie and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya as a dual stage winner, Meersman is a optimistic that he can taste victory on this Vuelta.
"I really would like to get a stage here for me and the team. We will see day by day and try to do our best."