Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Gianni Meersman had one purpose by making an original 24 rider breakaway of a cold, foggy, and rainy Criterium du Dauphine Stage 8: Take the intermediate sprint, and expand his points classification lead.
Meersman won the intermediate sprint at the 96km mark of the 155.5km stage, giving him 49 total. This meant Christopher Froome (Team Sky ProCycling) — in the yellow jersey — would have to win the stage to take the green jersey, while Meersman merely had to finish within the time cut.
Froome came close, with a 2nd place finish as Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) won the stage solo from the breakaway Meersman was involved in earlier. Andrew Talansky was 3rd.
Meersman drifted back once his work was finished and finished within the time cut.
De Marchi had caught Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), and then passed him on the Category 1 climb to the finish. Montee de Risoul was a 13.9km climb of 6.7% average gradient. While the peloton chased behind De Marchi the yellow jersey group continued to decrease in number — down to less than 30 riders, and getting smaller and smaller with each passing kilometer.
Within 1.8km to go and the gap down to 46″, Froome and Richie Porte (Team Sky ProCycling) left the rest of the peloton behind in pursuit. Froome also dropped Porte for a brief time, but Porte worked his way back. Talansky made an appearance just before the line with Porte, and was able to get a podium placing.
Meersman bested Froome for the points jersey by two points.
“I am happy about my green jersey,” Meersman said. I knew this morning I had to enter in the breakaway to get the points. It was the only way to win the jersey and then I also had to wait for the final result, because if Froome was the winner I would have lost the jersey. I did what I was supposed to do — I entered and arrived with the points. Then in the final I was there, sitting in back and waiting. With 1km to go I heard Froome was 2nd, so I was happy I won the points classification. The green jersey is a great achievement, but I really would have liked to win a stage. Because in this Criterium du Dauphine I only missed a win. I was always there, always at the top of the best riders in the bunch for the sprints. But I didn’t have the victories. I would have liked to add one win, but it was not possible. So I have to be happy for the good results. ”
Meersman said he is happy with his consistency.
“This season I really showed that I can be one of the most regular guys in the peloton, which is also important for me” Meersman said. “Now I go home and Wednesday I fly to Calpe to train under the sun and will come back Monday evening next week. I do this because of the national championship approaching. Wearing the Belgian National Champion jersey would be like a dream. I checked the parcour two weeks ago and think it’s nice, even a bit hard maybe, but really nice. The race depends also on how the peloton will ride. But honestly I hope to try to maintain the condition I had here at the Dauphine. I can probably do something good but I go to the national championship without any stress, and I will take what is possible.”
Tony Martin didn’t take the start this morning because of a sore throat.
“This morning when I woke up I had a little cold so I preferred to stop because the weather conditions weren’t so good,” Martin said. “We decided to go and check second ITT course of the Tour de France: 32km in distance on the 17th stage. We did it by car because it was raining and therefore impossible to do by bike. I think it’s not really a TT for specialists like me, it’s more for the climbers. The normal road bike will likely be the choice for everybody because there are two climbs and you also have to climb in the middle of the stage, so it’s not so easy. Also the first descent is really technical. So we will see what we can do. But for sure it’s not the time trial I was expecting for specialists.”