Tour de Romandie: Gianni Meersman wins again as Chris Froome retains lead
Chris Froome survived another flurry of late attacks to retain his overall lead of the Tour de Romandie.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 27/04/13 11:57am
For the second day in a row, Froome and his Team Sky team-mates came under intense pressure as three climbs in the final 40km provided the ideal platform for riders to launch solo bids for glory.
The British squad were able to haul all of them back, though, allowing Froome to cross the line safely in the peloton and consolidate his six-second lead over Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) in the general classification.
Meersman (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) moved up to third overall after picking up 10 bonus seconds for his win and is now nine seconds adrift of Froome.
The Briton told teamsky.com: "It has been good for me, but obviously there is no such thing as an easy day here. The other teams have been attacking us and the guys have really dug deep every day. They have been fantastic.
"I am feeling good. I have had the luxury of just sitting on the wheels for the past three days. And I have literally had a wheel to sit on all day, every day. The only time I was in the wind was in the prologue.
"Tomorrow being the queen stage means it is all to be decided I think. We are going up some pretty big climbs."
Stage three took the riders on a 181km route made up of three laps starting and ending in Payerne, close to the banks of Lake Neuchetal.
Six men broke away from the peloton early and opened up a gap of 4min 20sec, but with Steven Kruijswijk (Blanco) among their ranks and just 31 seconds down on Froome overall, Team Sky kept them at arm's length.
They were eventually caught after two of the day's five climbs, but that only prompted more attacks from within the main bunch.
A nine-man group quickly went clear but was brought back just as swiftly, before a series of pairs also tried and failed to escape Sky's clutches on the final two climbs.
Adriano Malori (Lampre-Merida) made one last attack on the flat run to the finish line, but with a bunch finish now inevitable, the sprinters' teams, and Omega Pharma - Quick-Step in particular, took to the front of the peloton and reeled him in with less than 500m remaining.
Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) then triggered the sprint, but Meersman was quickly on to the Swiss rider's wheel and rounded him to take another well-timed win.
"I was disappointed by my sprint yesterday, so I wanted to make it up today to my team-mates," Meersman said. "They did a perfect job today, a perfect lead-out, and I am really happy with this second victory."
Watch stage four live on Saturday on Sky Sports 2 from 3.15pm
Stage three result
1 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, 4:19:03
2Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana, same time
3 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
4 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano, st
5 Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, st
6 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC, st
7 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
8 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
9 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Argos-Shimano, st
10 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Katusha, st
1 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, 13:53:16
2 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +6secs
3 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step), +9
4 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard, +13
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +15
6 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar, +16
7 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +17
8 Stef Clement (Ned) Blanco, same time
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
10 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st