Omega Pharma Quick Step's Gianni Meersman enjoyed the rare pleasure of winning a stage while holding the overall leader's jersey, dashing up the middle of a chaotic final sprint to reinforce his overall lead (for now). Meersman won the mass gallop, in part by drifting into the path of Cannondale's Daniele Ratto, though the Belgian was not cited for leaving his line. Orica GreenEdge's Brett Lancaster took third on the stage, while the remaining sprinters just tried to stay upright, as a crash took out Jonas Ahlstrand and Arnold Jeanneson in the final 50 meters (neither appeared hurt). With bonifications Meersman moved his overall lead out to 16 seconds over Alejandro Valverde of Movistar on the eve of the first climbing stage.
Valverde's position leaves him ideally suited to take the overall lead tomorrow if he's got his climbing legs. However, his closest competitors -- Dan Martin, Joaquim Rodriguez, Robert Gesink, and Bradley Wiggins -- are all a mere four seconds back, meaning it will be a wide-open couple of days around the peaks of Catalonia. So far the forecast is relatively stable, meaning unlike last year we may yet see the high-alpine duel the race has bargained for. Results:
- Gianni Meersman, OPQS
- Daniele Ratto, Cannondale, s.t.
- Brett Lancaster, Orica-GE, s.t.
- Samuel Dumoulin, AG2R, s.t.
- Robert Wagner, Blanco, s.t.
- Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, at 0.16
- Danilo Wyss, BMC, at 0.20
- Robert Gesink, Blanco, s.t.
- Dario Cataldo, Sky, s.t.
- Cristiano Salerno, Cannondale, 34 points
- Christian Meier, Orica GreenEdge, 24