Volta Algarve 1: Meersmann is the Man. But a good start for Ben Swift.

Gianni Meersman:
"I was 20th position or something, but I stayed calm because a lot of guys were going full gas into a headwind," Meersman said. "You can never hold that kind of effort for long into a headwind. So I moved up a little bit, and then at the top of the uphill part of the finish they slowed down a little bit. I accelerated at that point. Kwiato looked behind and saw I was there, and he immediately took me to the front together with Styby. So, it was Kwiato, Styby, and me, and it was full gas to the finish. Even at 200 meters to go I was 3rd position and I just went as hard as I could. I knew it was the right time. So I went and I got the win. This is my second finish here and I really like it. You have to focus on the uphill, then try to recover a little bit, and then the timing is important because it is slightly downhill after that. It worked out perfectly for me. From the first kilometer the whole team put their confidence in me. Petr Vakoc and Julien Vermote were riding all day in the front into a headwind. Chapeau to them. Then the other guys, Michal Golas, Yves Lampaert, Tony Martin, and obviously Styby and Kwiato brought me to the finish. It was really good team work. I've participated in a few races and already won two. After Australia I had a small break of about a week and then I went immediately to Calpe to train hard. I then flew from Calpe to Portugal with the objective to try and win the first stage, and it worked out. I am really glad I am in good shape and could immediately finish the preparation with a victory. This victory is dedicated to my family who misses me a lot, but when I win they are really happy. I also dedicate this victory to Claude Criquielion, who died today at 58 after a bad stroke. I didn't know him personally, but know he was a big champion and I dedicate this to Claude and his family as my condolences. It is a sad day for Belgian cycling."
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Paul Martens:
“I would have signed up for a third place before the race, but now, after the race, I’m a bit disappointed. 
Very quickly into the race, I felt that my legs were strong, especially for a first race day. Besides that, I’m familiar with this final, as I won here two years ago.
On the final climb, there was an attack and I decided to follow. As I’m not a real sprinter, I don’t always have to wait until the final metres. There was a head-wind after the climb, however, which helped the peloton. We were reeled in and in the sprint, I was caught by surprise by the men from behind. I don’t think the others were faster than me, it had more to do with situation.
We worked well together as a team. Especially, when you think this was everyone’s first race day of the year. It always takes some time to get used to the chaos again. This was a good test for the next stages. We have to hold on to this spirit.”

1 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
3 Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoJumbo.nl
4 Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
5 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
6 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot
7 José Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team
8 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
10 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum Pro Cycling

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