Tour de Wallonie Stage 3: OPQS Goes on Offensive to Defend Yellow
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team didn't just sit back and control the race for the 174.1km Stage 3 of Tour de Wallonie on Monday. With Gianni Meersman in yellow after two consecutive 2nd place finishes in bunch sprints, OPQS first kept the original breakaway from gaining too much of a gap — catching them within 10km to go in the stage — Zdenek Stybar then went on the attack after staying on the wheel of an attacking Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) with just a few kilometers remaining.
Stybar gained as much as an 11" gap on the field with Meersman waiting in case he was caught. This move forced the peloton to scramble so they could bring him back, as he could potentially win the stage solo. If the Czech Road Champion gained more time he could even keep the leader's jersey with the team.
Styby was caught with a few hundred meters to go, leaving it up to Meersman to sprint and defend his GC leadership from the bunch. Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) launched early and had a big enough gap to with the stage easily. However, Meersman put in a huge effort to get his third consecutive 2nd place at Tour de Wallonie and protect his yellow jersey. Meersman caught and passed several riders for the second step of the podium. Meersman, who also gained some seconds in an intermediate sprint during the race, increased his GC leadership to 11" due to bonus seconds at the finish line. Silvan Dillier (BMC Racing Team) was 3rd.
OPQS looks next to 174.9km Stage 4, from Herve to Waremme, on Tuesday.