Gianni Meersman storms to Tour de l'Ain prologue victory

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Gianni Meersman powered to victory in the prologue of the Tour de l'Ain with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step riders finishing in the first four places.

Meersman completed the 4.6km time trial in five minutes and 22 seconds to claim his second Tour de l'Ain prologue win in two years.

The Omega Pharma-Quick-Step rider beat his time of last year which stood at five minutes and 31 seconds but the extraordinary thing was the course this year was longer. Last year the time trial was only 3.3km.

Easy course

However, Meersman admitted the course wasn't the same and was a bit easier to negotiate.

According to Cycling News, Meersman said: "The course was different from last year in that it was not so technical, but the last 500 metres were uphill. I think that section is where I won the race." 

This win means that the 28 year old has now won three times this year including wins in the Tour de Wallonie and Trofeo Muro-Port d'Alcudia.

Meersman was pleased with the prologue win and was happy he could repeat the success he had last year in the same event.

Target met

"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."

Omega Pharma-Quick-Step managed to finish the prologue with their riders occupying the top four places, with Meersman in first, Julian Alaphilippe in second, Pieter Serry in third and Rigoberto Uran Uran in fourth. Mark Cavendish came ninth meaning the Belgian team had five riders in the top 10.

OMPQ dominate

Cavendish's team went out on the course on time trial bikes for two hours before the start of the race which would have helped them to finish as high as the did.

Meersman thinks it will be hard to defend the leader's jersey but his team will do everything they can not lose it.

"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."

Result of Prologue

1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  0:05:22.52

2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  0:00:01.64

3. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  0:00:03.29

4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  0:00:03.35

5. Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  0:00:04.90

6. Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Bretagne - Séché Environnement  0:00:04.99

7. Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Rabobank Development Team  0:00:06.04

8. Timo Roosen (Ned) Rabobank Development Team  0:00:07.02

9. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  0:00:08.46

10. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp  0:00:08.58

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Mark Cavendish

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