Meersman Takes Stage 3 of Tour de Romandie 2013
Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) outsprinted Michael Albasini (GreenEdge) for second. Chris Froome (Sky Procycling) remains the overall leader.
After a series of abortive sallies, Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team), Steven Kruiswijk (Blanco), Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Kevin Reza (Europcar), and Matthias Brandle (IAM Cycling) escaped. Peio Bilbao (Euskaltel-Euskadi) joined the quintet, and the six forged a 4:21 lead by 58.3 km.
Sky led the pursuit, and the fugitives' advantage fell to 2:52 at 86 km. It rose to 4:13 on the Category 2 ascent to Villars-le-Comte, but Astana joined Sky at the front, and the gap had narrowed to 1:29 with 53.2 km left. Five km later, the field was together.
The ensuing km saw a number of attacks. Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack-Leopard) attacked with 24.5 km to go, but the Movistar-led bunch reeled him in. With 18 km remaining, Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) and Simone Stortoni (Lampre-Merida) jumped clear of the peloton, and a number of riders attempted to bridge up to the move. With 12 km left, the peloton was together.
Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) and Wilco Kelderman (Blanco) had a dig with 10 km remaining. Several other riders attempted to join the move, but the Sky-led bunch shut it down. Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) then jumped clear, and Sky declined to chase.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the pursuit, but Malori was hard to catch. He led at the one-km banner and was not caught until only 450 m remained. Albasini led out the sprint, but Meersman had his wheel and charged past the Swiss rider for the win.
Meersman won today in part to make amends for what he perceived to be a poor showing in Stage 2. "I was disappointed about my sprint yesterday and wanted to make it up today for everybody--my teammates especially," the Belgian said. "They did a great job today, did a perfect leadout and I'm really happy with my second victory at the Tour of Romandy. It maybe looked easy in the final, but it was not so easy. With two km to go, I knew the guys had something left in the tank to catch Malori ahead....Tony Martin took me to the last 600 or 700 m. It was perfect. As for tomorrow, I'm going to help the boys now. Before coming here, I had three stages in mind. The first stage I won, then yesterday I was third, and today I won again. So, I am happy."
In the overall, Froome leads Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) by 0:06 and Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) by 0:13. Stage 4 will be a standing shaker. The 181.5-km ride from Marly to Les Diablerets will feature four Category 1 ascents, with the final one eight km from the finish line. Will Froome extend his overall lead? Will Talansky, Valverde, or another contender snatch the lead from him? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!