By Nick Bull published
Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Gianni Meersman sprinted to win the opening road stage of this year's Tour of Romandy in Renens this afternoon as Britain's Chris Froome retained his overall lead.
Meersman followed the right wheels and then timed his sprint to perfection to beat Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) and Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida).
It was welcome reward for the Belgian team after they, together with Astana, had worked hard to pull back a two-man breakaway of Matthias Brandle (IAM) and Jérémy Roy (FDJ), who broke clear in the final 25 kilometres.
The pair were reeled in comfortably in sight of the line, which allowed Meersman to take his third victory of 2013. Omega Pharma rallied behind Meersman after Mark Cavendish was dropped by the peloton over the second category climb of Col du Mollendruz.
Race leader Froome enjoyed a quiet day in the saddle, and holds a six-second lead over Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) ahead of tomorrow's second stage, a 183-kilometre leg from Prilly to Granges.
Tour of Romandy 2013, stage one: Saint-Maurice to Renens
1. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 176.8km in 4-29-03
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard
3. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
4. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
5. Kevin Reza (Fra) Europcar
6. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana
7. Matthew Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar
9. Gaeten Bille (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM all at st.
Overall classification after stage one
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Sky in 4-42-24
2. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 6 secs
3. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard at 13 secs
4. Richie Porte (Aus) Sky at 15 secs
5. Rui Costa (Por) Movistar at 16 secs
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 17 secs
7. Stef Clement (Ned) Blanco
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp all at st.
10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Blanco at 18 secs
Richie Porte and Peter Kennaugh
Mark Cavendish suffers a mechanical problem
Gianni Meersman takes the bunch sprint win
Tour de Romandie 2013 stage one photo gallery
Tour de Romandie 2013: The Big Preview
Nick Bull is an NCTJ qualified journalist who has written for a range of titles, as well as being a freelance writer at Beat Media Group, which provides reports for the PA Media wire which is circulated to the likes of the BBC and Eurosport. His work at Cycling Weekly predominantly dealt with professional cycling, and he now holds a role as PR & Digital Manager at SweetSpot Group, which organises the Tour of Britain.
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