DANNY VAN POPPEL’S WINNING BURST IN RZESZOW!
After the longest stage yesterday, today the group took on the shortest stage in the 2017 edition of the Tour de Pologne – UCI World Tour: the fifth segment covered 130 km from “Olimp Nagawczyna” to Rzeszow. It was a short but very difficult fraction, featuring four GPM primes – one category 3 and three category 2’s; the last one of these came at 11 km from the arrival. It was a tense, lively and hard-fought stage, full of surprises all the way to the arrival.
Victory went to the Dutchman Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky). After two seconds and one third place in this race, on the finish line in Rzeszow Danny finally scored a well-deserved win on the roads of the Tour de Pologne, getting the best of the other sixty or so riders in a massive final sprint. Second place went to Luka Mezgec (Orica-Scott); Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was third, Roberto Ferrari (EAU Team Emirates) fourth and Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) came in fifth. So Peter Sagan has retained his yellow Carrefour jersey as the leader in the GC, expanding his lead by 4”, thanks to the bonus points garnered at the finish line; he now leads Teuns in the classification by 14” and is ahead of third placed Majka by 20”.
“I’m very happy; after two seconds and a third place, today victory was finally mine. It was a short stage but a very hard day. First, we really had to give it our all to get over the climbs and go catch the fugitives. Then the rain made everything even more difficult. I’d like to thank my team mates for the great job they did, allowing me to vie for a great sprint. Here in Poland I have finally found my top form for the first time in a long while; this is also due to an injury that has been slowing me down recently. But now all that is behind me and I am thrilled with this victory and the good results I’ve been achieving these last few days,” says Danny Van Poppel after his third victory of the season, the first one of the year in a World Tour race.
“Today it rained after many very hot days; in the final we were on a city circuit and therefore the asphalt became very slippery right away. This is why there were some falls today, but luckily I wasn’t caught up in any of them and I managed to make it to the finish line OK. Although in terms of kilometres it was a short stage, it was however a hard one, with short but rough climbs, and we rode hard for the entire stage. I am happy, everything went well for us and we made it through another day to hang on to the yellow jersey. Tomorrow we’ll see what happens,” says the World Champion Peter Sagan.
Ready, set, go… the race heated up immediately with a break by five riders: Belgian Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal), American Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Dutchman Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Italian Moreno Moser (Astana), who we remind you was the winner of the 2012 edition of the Tour de Pologne, and German Maximilian Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors). They reached a maximum advantage of about 3 minutes.
The little hills along the route weeded out the group as several sprinters, like the yesterday’s winner Caleb Ewan, started to lag behind the yellow jersey group of the best. After intense heat, a sudden storm caught the riders off guard with about 30 km to go to the arrival. The slippery asphalt caused a fall among the fugitives, with Schachmann taking the worst of it and being forced to withdraw from the race. The 4 remaining fugitives passed by the finish line in Rzeszow before taking on the final 22.5 km circuit with an advantage of about 1’.30”. The last man to peter out was Tejay Van Garderen, author of a great forcing move on the last uphill of the day about 12 km from the arrival; the American took off all alone to attempt a solo feat. But the group was being pushed in particular by the men from Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates and Team Sky, and they managed to close in on him, catching him with about 3 km to go to the end. The final epilogue was a crowded mass sprint with a strong group of about 60 riders jostling for victory. There was a fall in the last curve about 1200 metres out, around the fifteenth position, but at that point the final sprint was in play, with Van Poppel besting Mezgec and Sagan.
Peter Sagan also gets to keep the white Hyundai jersey for the points classification. Holland’s Bert-Jean Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo) still has the blue Lotto jersey as the most active rider in the group. Belgium’s Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal) captured the cyclamen Tauron jersey in the Mountain Grand Prix primes. Rafal Majka leads the Lotos classification as the best Polish rider. Team Bora-Hansgrohe remains ahead in the team classification.