Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is ready to fight for his leader’s jersey on the penultimate stage of the Tour de l’Ain. Meersman holds a 16 second lead over his teammate Julian Alaphilippe, after winning two stages, but will face his first big test on stage three.
“We will see. The graphic of the course is quite difficult but I will do my best to defend the jersey and if I can't do it, I will help my teammates. That's the great spirit of this team," said Meersman.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep has dominated the Tour de l’Ain and go into the penultimate day with five rider in the top 10. Personally, Meersman has had a great race so far, taking victory in the prologue before sprinting to success on stage two. The Belgian sprinter says that he couldn’t have asked for more in the lead-out.
"The guys did it perfectly today," he explained. “At one kilometre to go there was a corner on the right. Rigoberto Uran entered the corner full gas, and he kept the speed high. At 300 meters to go there was a left U-turn. Cav entered in first position with Alaphilippe and me on his wheel. When I came out from the corner I went all out for the sprint.”
Meersman has been the benefactor of the work of lead-out man deluxe Mark Cavendish. The Manxman is making his return after crashing out at the Tour de France. “It's always special to have Mark Cavendish in front of you in a finale,” said Meersman. “But also guys like Pieter Serry and Carlos Verona, they did super well. Carlos, for example, pulled since the beginning of the race.”
Stage three of the Tour de l’Ain is the Queen stage with five categorised climbs, including the first category Côte de Giron and the Col de Menthières. While Meersman will fight for the jersey, he is likely to be handing it over to his teammate Rigoberto Urán at the end of the day. The Colombian currently sits in fourth, 17 seconds behind Meersman.