Gianni Meersman has endured a hit-and-miss start to the season.
After a 2013 campaign which saw Meersman register five wins – include two stage wins a piece in the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie – the Belgian hit the ground running with victory in the early-season Trofeo Platja de Muro in Majorca.
However, Meersman crashed at Paris-Nice on stage two, on the same day he received a time penalty and fine for drafting his team car to get back from the bunch, and the 28-year-old subsequently withdrew from the race as a result of his injuries.
But Meersman is back on his bike – this Specialized S-Works Venge – so expect to see the fast finisher return to the peloton soon.
The Venge, which is also Mark Cavendish’s weapon of choice, is one of three bikes available to Omega Pharma-QuickStep riders, along with the all-round Tarmac SL4 and the Roubaix, which will come into its own over the next two weeks on the cobbles of northern Europe.
The Venge’s wind-cheating tube profiles are worth 22 ‘free’ watts at 40km/hr when compared to the Tarmac, according to Specialized, and Meersman uses Zipp’s oversized and super-stiff SL Sprint stem to harness his power when sprinting on the drops at the sharp end of a race. Otherwise, his machine is dressed in SRAM Red 22, Zipp 404 wheels wrapped in Specialized Turbo All-Round tubular tyres and a Specialized Body Geometry S-Works Toupe saddle.