A couple of “facts” about Gianni Meersman

Vuelta 2016, stage fiveI did suggest that Gianni Meersman might clean up at this Vuelta. Two stages isn’t all that clean, but if he can avoid crashes, he seems to be the standout sprinter for the few occasions when we get such a finish.

I feel I should try and provide a bit more information about him beyond the fact he’s Belgian and had already won a stage of this year’s Vuelta before notching a second win on stage five. This is easier said than done because he really isn’t that high profile a rider. I visited his website armed with Google Translate, which is rarely the best way to research something.

He’s from a cycling family. I think he was possibly given a bike by his grandfather and loved it (“Gianni was his solemn communion a race bike of grandfather and was immediately sold to the steel steed”). There’s also something on there about his having had back problems and their being solved by a mouthpiece because they derived from a misaligned jaw. I feel like I’m probably missing something there too, but this is half the joy of following cycling: half-understood information is invariably more colourful than the actual facts.

Stage six

Despite the fact they’ve only bothered categorising one climb, this is pretty hilly. Hard to say how it’ll go. Riders like Meersman might still be able to make it to the finish in the front group or attacks might rain down and shred the bunch. Most likely it’ll just be a day for the breakaway.

Today’s stage term is ‘Armorican quartzites’ – a formation of quartzites that were created around 450 million years ago, in the Ordovician period. ‘Armorican’ refers to the place in north-western France where they were first discovered.

I’m sort of enjoying these, but I miss the food facts.

Vuelta 2016, stage six