Lighting struck twice for Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) in a second UCI WorldTour race this season.
The Belgian won stage three of the Tour de Romandie today, adding a second victory to his stage one triumph.
Meersman, who won the opening two stages of the Volta a Catalunya in March, now shares a place at the top of the table for UCI WorldTour wins this season with Team Sky’s Richie Porte.
The OPQS sprinter said he had been left disappointed by only finishing on the podium yesterday and wanted to make amends to his team-mates.
“As for tomorrow, I’m going to help the boys now,” he said. “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.”
OPQS hit the front in numbers in the closing kilometres to haul back lone escapee, Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida). A sprint train normally reserved for Mark Cavendish steamed towards the finish line in Payerne, leaving Meersman to act alone only in the final few hundred metres.
The Belgian, now third on general classification behind Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Garmin-Sharp’s Andrew Talansky, didn’t waste his team-mates efforts, and launched smartly from the wheel of Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE), who finished third behind Meersman and second-placed Francesco Gavazzi (Astana).
Race leader Froome enjoyed what he admitted is likely to be his final quiet day in the wheels of his Team Sky colleagues.
The Kenyan-born Brit, wearing the number one left vacant by last year’s winner, team-mate, Bradley Wiggins, will need a strong performance on tomorrow’s Queen Stage to replicate the Londoner’s victory.
“The guys are tired but I’d like to think everyone is pretty tired at this point in the race,” he said. “Tomorrow being the queen stage means it’s all to be decided I think – especially with bad weather moving in and up at those altitudes around 2000 metres. We’re going up some pretty big climbs.”
Froome paid tribute to the efforts of his colleagues, joking that the only time he had faced the wind was during the prologue time trial.
And he praised the role played by Porte, overall winner in Paris-Nice, and a rider of sufficient talent to cause alarm among competing teams, describing the Australian’s presence as “a big bonus”.
“Like today where he slipped into a move and that put the pressure on the other teams to chase,” Froome said of Porte, who is fifth overall.
“It meant we could sit back a little bit and recover on the wheel. Tomorrow we might be able to play that card again but we’ll see how it plays out on the climb. Of course we’d ideally like to go into the final time trial with a bit more of an advantage,” he added.
Tomorrow’s Queen stage, a 188.5km ordeal from Marly to Les Diablerets, contains four first category climbs that could have a significant effect on the general classification.