Cycling: Meersman wins Romandie first stage

Belgium's Gianni Meersman, of the Omega Pharma team, won the first stage of the Tour of Romandie on Wednesday, but Britain's race favourite Chris Froome remained in the overall lead.

Meersman won the 176km stage between Saint-Maurice and Renens, in the Lausanne suburbs, in a sprint finish from Italy's Giacomo Nizzolo and Roberto Ferrari.

Froome holds on to the overall lead after winning Tuesday's prologue.

Thursday's second stage will be a 190.3km ride north from Prilly to Granges.

Froome is hoping to win the five-stage race, which concludes on Sunday, as he steps up his preparations for this summer's Tour de France.

The two previous winners of this race, Australia's Cadel Evans (2011) and Froome's Sky team-mate Bradley Wiggins last year went on to win the Tour de France.