Meersman claims Vuelta stage victory


Etixx-QuickStep's Gianni Meersman produced an impressive sprint finish to claim victory in the second stage of the Vuelta a Espana. 

Michael Schwarzmann (Bora-Argon 18) claimed second and Magnus Cort Nielsen (ORICA-BikeExchange) was third, while Michal Kwiatkowski's fourth-placed finish was enough for the Pole to claim the leader's red jersey from Team Sky colleague, Peter Kennaugh.

Kennaugh, along with Chris Froome (Team Sky) and the Movistar trio of Nairo Quintana, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Alejandre Valverde all finished in the main peloton.

Rojas and Valverde now occupy second and third respectively in the general classification, ahead of fourth-placed Froome, who is bidding to become the first rider since Bernard Hinault in 1978 to win the Tour de France and the Vuelta in the same year.

The 160.8km stage that took the riders from Ourense to Baiona only contained one third category climb and a flat final 15km that played into the hands of sprinters such as Meersman.

Speaking on the podium, the delighted 30-year-old dedicated the victory to his family.

"I'm really happy," he said.

"The Vuelta is my big goal of the last part of the season. I trained so hard to be good here. 

"I was really stressing, but I told my wife to look at the television today because I felt good and this win is for her and my daughter. 

"She and my daughter were yelling at the TV the last 200 metres and I think it might have helped me. 

"Today was my big goal, I was really planning for the stage.

"I was second and third a lot last year, but the team really trusted me and I have to thank the team."

Monday's third stage will see the riders cover 170km between Marin and Dumbria, culminating in a summit finish, one of ten in this year's race.