Van Poppel, Bouhanni, Modolo, Bonifazio, Nizzolo and many more will all be vying for victory in the sprints…
There are exactly two weeks left until the Grand Depart from Krakow for the 75th Tour de Pologne – UCI World Tour, which will take place from August 4 to 10. On this year’s World Tour calendar the Tour de Pologne comes right after the Tour de France and smack in between other major stage races. This race is becoming increasingly important; it is not only a lofty goal for many riders, it has also become an essential step for any rider who is aiming to end the season on a strong note on their way to the Vuelta and World Championships.
2018 will mark 90 years in the history of the Tour de Pologne, as well as the centennial of Polish independence. It promises to be an edition full of thrills from the very first paces, because if the final will take place against the backdrop of major elevations, including the Tatra Mountains, the first part will shine a spotlight on the sprinters in the group.
The first three stages, with arrivals in Krakow, Katowice and Zabrze, traditionally feature a sprinting finish. Running through the list of starting riders, we can see there will be plenty of high speed thrills. Names of diehard sprinters include Holland’s Danny Van Poppel (Lotto NL – Jumbo); last year he won the 5th stage, beating Slovenia’s Luca Mezgec and “a certain” Peter Sagan over the finish line in Rzeszow. We can say Danny has it in his blood; in fact his father is the legendary Jean-Paul Van Poppel. In the 2017 edition Danny Van Poppelwas one of the stars of the sprints, winning not only stage 5 but also scoring two seconds and a third place, even donning the yellow leader’s jersey for a day.
Another top tier name is Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni. His team, Cofidis, Solutions Credits, is one of the wild cards in the Tour de Pologne, and judging by their line-up of riders it looks like the French team intends to fully honour their invitation from the Lang Team. Bouhanni is a rider with a strong, sometimes controversial personality, but he has definitely always been one of the most fierce and formidable sprinters in the pack, as proven by his portfolio, which features stage victories in the Giro and in the Vuelta, among others.
Other noteworthy sprinters to keep an eye on are Italians Sacha Modolo (Team EF Education First), winner on the streets of Poland last year in Katowice; Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida), winner of a stage in the 2016 Tour de Pologne and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek – Segafredo). Finally, let’s not forget the name of the other Dutchman, Moreno Hofland (Lotto Soudal), who has stood out in Poland in the past.
“The Tour de Pologne is always trying to offer a complete and balanced route from every perspective. The aim is to guarantee the public a great show from the first stage to the last, but at the same time to provide riders with the conditions to best express their potential. The first part is built around sprinters, then mid-week we begin to see arrivals that could start to give initial indications as to the shape of the general classification; I’m thinking about the arrival on the wall at Szczyrk in the 4th stage and the next day in Bielsko-Biala, and then there’s the grand finale with the mountains, where those whose legs can withstand the challenge can come up with some moves to shake up the race. The riders we have reviewed will definitely provide some exciting sprints. Then as I always say, beyond the routes it is the riders and the teams that make the race, so in each stage there will definitely be room for anyone who is brave enough to attack and go for broke,” explains the General Director for the Tour de Pologne, Czeslaw Lang.