After the first two difficult mountain stages, Kwiatkowski hangs on to the yellow jersey. Tomorrow is the Grand Finale.
Austrian Georg Preidler (Groupama-FDJ) had a glorious day today as the winner of the 6th stage in the Tour de Pologne – UCI World Tour. The 129 km stage, Zakopane – Bukovina Resort, was the first of two fractions in the Tatra Mountains that will decide this edition of the Polish stage race.
Georg Preidler’, whose portfolio boasts three victories in the Austrian time trial championships, couldn’t have chosen a better place than the Tour de Pologne to score his first win in the World Tour and the best achievement in his career.
It was an exciting stage finale, with all the top riders in the general classification coming down off the mountain summit together after the last climb of the day, heading straight down the other side at breakneck speeds with about 1.5 km to go to the finish line.
After receiving the all clear from his team captain, Thibaut Pinot (6th in the general and still a contender to win this TDP), Preidler did a great job in finding the right angle and getting a jump on the rest of the competition. Germany’s Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe) and national idol Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) were hot on the heels of the rider from Groupama-FDJ, placing second and third.
After two victories in the last two days the Polish champion received masterful support from his Team Sky team mates again today, showing no weakness and manoeuvring into a fine placement that will keep him in the Carrefour yellow jersey as leader of the general classification, with an even stronger advantage. Now, on the eve of the final stage, the gruelling, 136 km Bukovina Resort – Bukowina Tatrzanska, Kwiatkowski is in the lead, 16” ahead of Belgian Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) and 24” in front of New Zealand’s George Bennett (LottoNL – Jumbo). After them, Emanuel Buchamnn (Bora-hansgrohe) is 4th at 25”, Sergei Chernetski (Astana) is 5th and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) is 6th at 28”, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Sott) is 9th at 39” and Fabio Aru is 11th at 42. With all the big names bunched together in less than one minute, tomorrow is sure to be a spectacular final stage.
Here is a recap of today’s race
After the departure from Zakopane the riders did 4 laps around a 24.2 km circuit before making it to the finish line at the Bukovina Resort in Bukowina Tatrzanska. The stage featured a break by 9 riders: Carlos Verona (Mitchelton Scott), Patrick Konrad (BORA-hansgrohe), Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Vervaeke (Sunweb), Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin), Valerio Agnoli (Bahrain Merida) and Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi).
This breakaway group reached a maximum advantage of about 2’30”. However, the fugitives got caught with about 25 km to go to the arrival, with the best group of about 40 riders being spurred on by the riders on Teuns’ BMC Racing and Team Sky riders carrying Kwiatkowski in the yellow jersey.
At 12 km from the arrival on the last GPM of the day, Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors) and Sam Oomen (Sunweb) broke ranks and surged forward. These two riders were 14th and 7th respectively in the general this morning at the start in Zakopane, only 30” behind the leader Kwiatkowski.
As these two got caught with 3 km to go, it was Bennett, third in the general, who tried to break through but at the very start of the final climb towards the finish line at the Bukovina Resort, all the best started to ride up onto his tyres. And in the jostle for the stage victory among all the contenders for the final victory in this Tour de Pologne, today Preidler was the one who deservedly earned the most important victory of his career.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) is still in the Carrefour yellow jersey as leader of the GC and he also leads the Lotos classification for best Polish rider.
Poland’s Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi) garnered enough points in the break today to take the Tauron magenta jersey as best climber away from his team mate Tratnik.
Germany’s Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) holds on to the Hyundai white jersey as best sprinter.
Belgian Jenthe Biermans (Katusha-Alpecin) keeps the Lotto blue jersey for the most active rider in the peloton.
Astana Pro Team leads the team classification.
“We have a great team here and they did a brilliant job keeping back attacks, especially at the beginning of the race when it seemed that every rider in the peloton was trying to get in the break. We managed to keep everything under control and keep everyone back. Once the break went we were controlling the pace of the peloton 80% of the time, with BMC taking over in the last lap. Thanks to the team’s great work I managed to stay in my comfort zone throughout the race and until the end of last lap and the end of last climb. Thanks to such great team work we managed to take 4 more seconds of GC and I’m really thankful that I could finish well and make their efforts worth it, especially with such a chaotic sprint. With only 1 stage to go it’s the last chance to take the win in Tour de Pologne and a lot of strong riders are going to be doing their best to change the GC. I now have 16 seconds lead in GC, but it’s nothing if we get a puncture or just have bad luck tomorrow. Anyway, we will do the best to keep the yellow jersey” says Michal Kwiatkowski.
“I stayed in during the stage and towards the end just jumped away in the right moment. I know my abilities and I know that I can do the sprint quite fast. I’m happy that I could finally win in the World Tour- several time I was very close but this is my first win. I have a great team – they’re great support and a very strong group, so I’m very happy in this team and glad I could deliver this win for us. We will have a team meeting tomorrow and decide how to strategize our tactic for the last stage of the Tour, but for now I’m very happy with the win” says the stage winner Georg Preidler.
“Today’s stage was really hard, as it was always up-and-down and critical to be at the front. My team did a perfect job and made sure that I was always protected towards the front of the group, especially going into the last climb. When the final attack happened, initially nobody went to chase and eventually the bunch was not able to close in on Georg Preidler. Once we all sprinted, I managed to get 2nd place. I’m thankful to my team for such a great support” says Emanuel Buchmann second today.