THE “WALL” IN SZCZYRK LIGHTS UP THE TOUR DE POLOGNE!
It was a fantastic show at the finish line for the third stage in the Tour de Pologne. Victory went to the Belgian Dylan Teuns (BMC) on the gruelling final stretch, where he came in ahead of the pair from Bora-Hansgrohe made up of World Champion Peter Sagan and Poland’s own Rafal Majka. However, Peter Sagan has the satisfaction of recouping the yellow Carrefour jersey as the leader in the general classification, where he is in control with 6” over Teuns and 12” on Majka. Holland’s Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) is in fourth place 16” back, and his fellow countryman Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac) is in fifth place, 21” behind.
“I’m really happy to take this win. It was a good finish for me and I knew the form was really good. I went on an altitude camp at the beginning of this month, and it gave me a lot of benefits coming into this race, and be in really good shape at the moment” say the winner Dylan Teuns that today scored his fourth season victory, the first one in a World Tour in his career, confirming himself as a specialist on this type of arrival: in fact, this year he had already taken third place in the Fleche Wallonne on the Huy “wall”, right behind Alejandro Valverde and Daniel Martin.
“Today was a much harder stage than I expected, and we decided with the team to see how it goes, and pass the climbs, to see if I will go for the final. In the end we slipped a little bit with Rafal in the last 400 metres, and Teuns escaped from us. We were close to catching him, but still we kept the yellow jersey and took 2nd and 3rd on the stage” says the yellow jersey Peter Sagan.
“I was so happy to be up there, I usually don’t go like this on a steep climb, there was a bit of suffering but now I am happy, with Peter second on the stage and first in GC. I am third in GC and we have two cards to play now and we wait for the last two stages to see” says the best Polish rider Rafal Majka.
On paper the stage promised to be packed with thrills, and so it was. The stage covered 161 km and featured 4 category 1 mountain primes before the uphill arrival on the “wall” at Szczyrk, a very hard and challenging stretch of about 1 km with gradients of up to 20% in certain points. The wall turned out to be highly selective, with all the best riders making it to the top one at a time. Today on the roads of the Tour de Pologne, the crowds were massive and it was very hot, with temperatures above 30°.
In the first part of the stage seven riders made a break for it, taking off from the initial kilometres after the start in Jaworzno: Belgian Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), Frenchman Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step Floors), Dutchman Bert-Jan Lindeman (Lotto NL-Jumbo), Switzerland’s Sebastien Reichenbach (Fdj), Portuguese Josè Goncalves (Katusha-Alpecin) and the Poles Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) and Adam Stachowiak (Polish Team). They reached a maximum advantage of about 4 minutes. The fugitives got caught by the group of the best riders with about 35 km to go until the arrival, along the climb that led to the third mountain prime of the day, which was won by the Belgian Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors). Many riders started to fall back from the tail of the group, losing ground in the first of the two19 km laps that the group covered before taking on the final uphill stretch.
On the four mountain primes of the day, Russia’s Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) broke ranks and attempted an attack, but he got caught with 13 km to go until the arrival. Then there was an attack by Australian Jack Haig (Orica-Scott), who was the first one to make it over the last mountain prime of the day, a climb that weeded out the pack, with a 10” second advantage on the chasing group, which was down to about 30 riders. The Australian got caught, too, at 1.3km from the finish line; afterwards there was the start of the spectacular final wall where Teuns forged ahead, resisting an amazing comeback by Sagan and Majka who came very close to catching him. Fourth and fifth place went to the Dutch duo Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) and Tom-Jete Slagter (Cannondale-Drapac). Other big names included Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) in seventh place at 8”, Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) eighth at 9”, Wout Poels (Team Sky) ninth at 12” and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) twelfth at 15”.
As for the other rankings, Peter Sagan continues wearing the white Hyundai jersey for the points’ classification. Polish National Champion Adrian Kurek is still wearing the blue Lotto jersey as the most active rider in the group, while his fellow countryman and team mate Maciej Paterski captured the cyclamen Tauron jersey for the mountain grand prix. Majka is third in the general classification and leads the Lotos rankings for best Polish rider. Team Bora-Hansgrohe commands in the team standings.