Only one second divides Mohorič from Almeida Arms in the air for Tim Merlier as he takes victory in the final stage in Krakow. In a thrilling finale, Tim Merlier won the 7th and final stage of the Tour de Pologne UCI WorldTour, crossing the finish line in Krakow after 3h 28’44” ahead of Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) in 2nd and Fernando Gaviria (Team Movistar) in 3rd.
But the main focus today was on the battle for the General Classification. The last episode of the battle between Mohoric and Almeida took place at the intermediate sprint in Wilamowice, 67.5 kilometres into the route. Bahrain Victorious and UAE Team Emirates battled to the last metre for the points that would decide the winner of the 80th edition of the Tour de Pologne UCI WorldTour. It was a full sprint that saw Pasqulon leading Mohoric overtaking his nearest rival, Joao Almeida, to take the win for only one second, the closest finish ever in the 7-stage race in Poland. The two pumped their fists at the end of the frantic action and congratulated each other. The podium was rounded up by MIchal Kwiatkowski (Team Ineos) who was involved in a crash fortunately without consequences at about 12 kms from the finish.
Quotes of the day
TIm Merlier (Soudal Quick -Step)
“It was another hectic sprint, but the team kept me in front all day. We never had any problems. Only at the end, in the last two kilometres, were we too far ahead, but with Bert Vanleberghe we stayed calm and managed to get a good position before the final sprint. We started the sprint early. We knew that Gaviria always comes from far away, so we had to do the same. It was just enough to get back on him. On the line I threw my bike and I think it was really necessary because De Kleijn was coming at high speed. Today I used the 56 because Bert asked a mechanic to use it and I had to. It turned out to be a good decision. As a team, winning three stages here in the Tour de Pologne is an amazing result and one we’re proud of. We are also fourth and fifth in the GC with Ilan and Mattia, so it has been a really great week. I love racing here and I will remember this race for a long time.”
Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious)
“I feel proud because we fought all the way to the finish today and now we’re going to celebrate. It was hard to concentrate on the race today because of what happened last night in Slovenia with the floods and people losing their lives, their homes and their belongings. My heart is with them. As soon as I get back I’ll try to help them financially with the prize money from this race. Sometimes we need to put sport into perspective. On a sporting level I am really happy and proud of this success. It was a great team effort and one of the best team performances. I am happy to have been a part of it. About the intermediate sprint I can say that we knew the UAE would go for it and we had to go for it. We studied that sprint in great detail last night. We knew exactly what we had to do, I wanted my own leadout. Pasqualon and everyone else did an incredible job, I just had to finish. It’s different when you win because of the team and when you win because you’re strong. I would like to come back to the Tour de Pologne. I’ve been here before in 2019 when I won a stage and in 2021 when I finished second in the GC.I think the parcour is really well balanced, with punchy climbs that suit me quite well. I want to thanks everybody for this incredible week of bike racing.”
Joao Almeida (UAE TEam Emirates)
“Overall it was really good, I found good legs, that was the main thing here before the Vuelta, which is my goal now,” says Almeida who won Tour de Pologne in 2021. “So I think we leave the Tour de Pologne with a good feeling and good results. It gives some morale for the future and the rest of the season. I was a bit frustrated after the sprint today because I was so close, but one second or one minute doesn’t make a difference. I am second anyway. But I tried everything and I could count on a great team so I’m proud of our race.”
MIchal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers)
“I’m just missing a spark, a stage win and/or a better GC position, but I have to be happy with what I’ve got” says Kwaitkowski, who after the finish run immediately to the airport to join the World championships in Glasgow. “My team did a great job over the 7 stages and I really have to thank them, I am really happy. It’s the fourth time I’ve been on the podium at the Tour de Pologne and to start in front of my fans always gives me incredible support. Hearing the crowd shout my name is something really special. I hope I’ll be able to come back here every year for them.”
Markus Hoelgaard (Lidl – Trek)
“It was special to take it from a teammate. I didn’t want to do that at all, but in the end I was in the breakaway and it was either me or someone else in the breakaway. At least it stayed in the team. It’s an achievement I’m proud of and the jersey is nice too, to be honest.”
How the race unfolded
The first part of the race, immediately after the start in Zabrze, saw a very high pace, with the highest average of the edition reaching 47 km/h.
At the intermediate sprint in Wilamowice, 67.5 kilometres from the start, Bahrain Victorious and UAE Team Emirates battled to the last metre for the points that would decide the winner of the 80th edition of the Tour de Pologne UCI WorldTour. It was a full sprint that saw Pasqulon leading Mohoric overtaking his nearest rival, Joao Almeida, to take the win.
From the 90 km mark, the day’s breakaway formed after several attacks and counter-attacks within the peloton. Dorian Godon (ACT), Christian Scaroni (AST) and Marcin Budziński (POL) managed to pull away from the group.
At about 80 kms from the finish Fran Miholjević (Bahrain – Victorious) crashed out of the race.
Movistar and Tudor Pro Cycling Team took control of the race shortly joined by EF Education-EasyPost, Soudal Quick-Step, Groupama-FDJ and Alpecin-Deceuninck at the front.
First Scaroni, then Godon and Budinski, the three escapees were caught by the peloton that was stretched out ahead of the sprint with Soudal-Quick-Step in the lead.
Shortly after the second lap began a few riders went down. Among them Michal Kwiatkowski that managed to join the group.
The sprint was won by Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) ahead of Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) in 2nd and Fernando Gaviria (Team Movistar) in 3rd.