The last stage went to Simon Yates but all of Poland is ecstatic for Michal Kwiatkowski’s yellow jersey.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), along with the rest of Poland burst into gleeful celebration on the finish line in Bukowina Tatrzanska. Kwiatkowski has finally earned the right to sign his name into the golden legend of his “native” Tour de Pologne. The last Pole to pull off such a feat was Rafal Majka in 2014.
Everything was decided in the final. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) launched a determined attack with about 10 km to go to the arrival. The Brit managed to gain a 30” margin, threatening to tear the yellow jersey from Kwiatkowski. However, the Pole kept his cool and in the last three uphill kilometres towards the finish line in Bukowina, with Bennett, Pinot and Teuns hot on his tail, Kwiatkowski kept grinding away until the very end.
As things turned out, Simon Yates deservedly earned the stage victory, prevailing over Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Davide Formolo (Bora-hansgrohe); 4th Sam Oomen (Sunweb), 5th George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo). But the Tour de Pologne still went to Michal Kwiatkowski, who beat his ultimate companions on the podium, Simon Yates by 15” and Thibout Pinot by 20”; 4th George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) 24″, 5th Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) 27″.
This victory is extra special for Kwiatkowski, who was born in Torun in 1990. He is also the reigning Polish National Champion, and he’s won this edition celebrating 90 years of the Tour de Pologne in the year celebrating 100 years of Polish independence.
Now Kwiatkowski can add this important trophy to his collection, which also features: the 2014 World Championship, the 2017 Sanremo, the 2015 Amstel Gold Race, the 2017 Clasica San Sebastian, the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico and two editions of the Strade Bianche in 2014 and 2017.
Here’s a recap of the race:
Today’s decisive stage covered 136 km, divided into 2 laps around a 68 km circuit from the Bukovina Resort to Bukowina Tatrzanska. The fraction featured 6 category one GPMs and there was also a stretch of dirt road to contend with. The weather alternated between sun and rain throughout the race.
There were lots of attempted breaks from the start. A small group of 19 attackers took shape In the lead with: Maciej Paterski (Reprezentacja Polski), Grega Bole and Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida), Roman Kreuziger and Carlos Verona (Mitchelton-Scott), Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgohe), Rui Costa, Valerio Conti and Przemyslav Niemec (UAE Team Emirates), Josè Herrada (Cofidis), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Tom Leezer (LottoNL-Jumbo), Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing), Johannes Frohlinger (Sunweb), Jan Bakelants and Mickael Cherel (Ag2r), Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha – Alpecin), Jorge Arcas (Movistar) and Sergey Shalunov (Gazprom). This bunch gained a maximum advantage of about 2’40”.
With about 25 km to go to the arrival, after the second-to-last GPM of the day, the fugitives broke ranks and the Kazak champion Lutsenko, along with a pair of riders from Ag2r, Bakelants and Cherel remained in the lead. De Plus (Quick-Step) and Felline (Trek-Segafredo) also came up from behind, striking out on the attack from the group surrounding the yellow jersey.
Valerio Conti (UAE Tem Emirates) also caught up to this bunch by attempting a solitary break at about 16 km from the arrival, but on the last GPM of the day he was also reabsorbed by the 15-unit group with Kwiatkowski and the other big names in the general classification.
At about 10 km from the arrival Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) broke out ahead as he tried to make this Tour de Pologne his own. But everything came down to the last 3 km, with Yates winning the stage but Kwiatkowski managing to hang on to the final yellow jersey.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) conquered:
-the Carrefour yellow jersey as leader of the GC;
-the Hyundai white jersey of the best sprinter ;
-and he also won the Lotos classification for best Polish rider of the race.
Austrian Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe) today conquered the Tauron magenta jersey as best climber.
Belgian Jenthe Biermans (Katusha-Alpecin) won the Lotto blue jersey for the most active rider in the peloton.
Ag2r La Mondiale won the team classification.
“It’s amazing feeling to have won here in Poland, and it has been a long dream of mine. Since 2012 I have been waiting to gain a victory in this race, and with so much uncertainty regarding my form following the hard effort of Tour de France. The race was hard from the start, but especially since the Szczyrk climbing stage. The number of other strong riders contenting the GC results was big and it was necessary for me to be actively engaged in the fight to retain the yellow jersey from that moment on. The public and the support everywhere along the roads was amazing and having them on my side, shouting my name and being so vocal about it was so motivating and I am immensely grateful for that. Huge thanks for my Team and my team mates- they did a lion’s share of the work, and special mention needs to go to Michal Golas and Michal Wisniowski – both of whom have been with me for years now and had a huge role in this win. The rest of our team and the support team have also done an amazing job and I’m very grateful for everything they did” says the winner of TDP Michal Kwiatkowski.
“It’s a perfect birthday celebration, even if a few days too late. It’s a fantactic victory – I went in the right moment, got a good gap and managed to keep it. It feels great that it worked and I wads feeling better every day during this Tour de Plogne, as you can see form the results, even though the stages were relatively short so it was hard to judge the form. Right now I’m very happy to have finished it with a fantastic stage win” says the stage winner Simon Yates second in the final GC.
“During today’s stage it quickly became apparent that Kwiatkowski was having a very strong day and with support of the whole Team Sky his position was very good, so the tactic that we took was to challenge him in the final sprint. What we haven’t prepared for was the solo attack from Yates and he proved to be stronger than us towards the end of the stage. Nevertheless I am very happy with my 3rd place. This morning it was still a very far-fetched idea to even think about it, but thanks to the speed of my sprint I caught a few bonus points, which got me the podium spot. It’s my first Tour de Pologne, which was a great experience thanks to the good atmosphere the brilliant route – short but very technical stages, punchy pace and challenging terrain” says Thibaut Pinot second today and third of GC.
“I’m truly happy because it’s a particularly important year for us- the anniversary of Polish independence, the 75th edition of the Tour and of my involvement for the last 25 years- it all makes it a very special occasion. So this makes Michal’s win so much more significant. With his strong form after Tour de France, he demonstrated that he is indeed a top quality rider and, even just looking at the podium of this year’s TdP – he is in incredibly strong company. The fight that he put up was incredible and there were so many occasions where it could have gone another way – the stage challenges, the climbing and sprints , and today’s dramatic fight for the stage victory – where Kwiatkowski took a big part of the fight on his shoulders towards the finish line and led to his eventual race victory here in Bukowina” says Czeslaw Lang TDP general director.