Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) maintained his 100 per cent record at the 2013 Volta a Catalunya with victory on stage two.
The Belgian, who won stage one from a 13-rider escape group which also included Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), outsprinted Daniele Ratto (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEDGE) at the end of the 161km stage from Girona to Banyole.
Meersman extends his overall advantage over Valerio Agnoli (Astana) to 14 seconds courtesy of a 10-second time bonus for the stage win, while Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains third overall, 16 seconds adrift. Wiggins finished safely in the peloton and lies eighth overall, 20 seconds behind Meersman.
Christian Meier (Orica-GreenEDGE) went on the attack once again having also formed part of the breakaway on stage one, only this time the Australian was joined by Olivier Kaisen (Lotto-Belisol) and Christophe Laborie (Sojasun).
But, with stage two offering a rare opportunity for a bunch sprint in a race which is set to be dominated by climbers, the trio were kept within an arm’s length by the peloton, with their lead only extending out to three minutes.
The escapees were eventually reeled in with 20km remaining of a route which finished with four laps of a 9.2km circuit.
Four riders, including Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Michal Golas, then launched a last-ditch attack with four kilometres to go but Ag2r La Mondiale and Blanco Pro Cycling set out bringing the quartet back with a little under two kilometres to the line.
And that left Meersman to take top honours, jumping out from behind team-mate and young Briton Andy Fenn’s wheel before holding off Ratto on the slightly uphill finish to claim his second successive win.
Stage three will see the GC contenders return to centre stage, with a summit finish that caps a day which also includes two first category climbs.
Volta a Catalunya 2013 – stage two – result
1) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – 3:48.10 hours
2) Daniele Ratto (ITA) – Cannondale Pro Cycling – same time
3) Brett Lancaster (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
4) Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) – Ag2r La Mondiale
5) Robert Wagner (GER) – Blanco Pro Cycling
6) Julien Simon (FRA) – Sojasun
7) Maurits Lammertink (NED) – Vacansoleil-DCM
8) Laurent Pichon (FRA) – FDJ
9) Danilo Wyss (SWI) – BMC Racing
10) Manuele Mori (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
1) Gianni Meersman (BEL) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep – 7:43.46 hours
2) Valerio Agnoli (ITA) – Astana +14″
3) Alejandro Valverde (SPA) – Movistar +16″
4) Danilo Wyss (SWI) – BMC Racing +20″
5) Robert Gesink (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling – same time
6) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Team Sky
7) David Lopez (SPA) – Team Sky
8) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky
9) Jesus Herrada (SPA) – Movistar
10) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp