Olav Kooij won the fourth stage of the Tour de Pologne UCI WorldTour at the end of a majestic sprint. He started from a distance and dominated, overtaking Matjin Van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) and Matteo Moschetti (Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team) in the final metres.
The Jumbo-Visma rider is no stranger to winning in Poland, where he took the first stage and the first leader’s jersey of last year’s edition, as well as his first victory in a WorldTour race.
“It was a technical and fast final, with possible echelons, so everyone wanted to be at the front,” explained todays’ winner Olav Kooij. “We knew we had to stay focused on the last corner. I came out from the corner in second position and I was forced to launch my sprint from a distance. I really wanted to go a bit later, but you have to go when you have the chance, so I tried, I gave everything and I am really happy to have taken the win. I am happy I got another victory here in Poland on a race that suits me. In a few days I’ll be part of the national team in Glasgow in the Road Race so this stage win is for sure a boost for my morale before the event.”
Jacopo Mosca, leader of the PZU mountains classification and one of the riders who is always in the breakaway during this 80th edition of the race, explains: “Today I went on the attack again to take the day’s KOM in order to keep the jersey I am wearing, which is now my ultimate goal. Tomorrow will be a decisive stage for me and I will certainly do my best to succeed.”
Matej Mohorič, winner of the second stage and leader of the general classification sponsored by ORLEN, explains: “Today was a fairly quiet stage. We were hoping that the wind would be a factor for attacks from the start, but it wasn’t. Tomorrow is an important stage. We can still make a difference and try to win. In Bielsko-Biała in 2021 I finished second behind Nikias Arndt, who is now my teammate. This stage seems to be a bit tougher, but I am confident that I can get a good result.
LOTTO’s most active rider, Patryk Stosz, said: “Today was a very good day, I won all the LOTTO intermediate sprints of the stage. Tomorrow, after a long day in a breakaway today, tomorrow it’ll be hard to keep the pace but I’ll try my best and I hope I’ll have the strength to fight for the win in Krakow. “
How the race unfolded
The fourth stage of the Tour de Pologne started in Sterzlin, a new addition to the Tour de Pologne route. The 162 riders in the race covered 199.1km, including two cobbled sections of 0.5km and 2.2km, before reaching Opole, where the sprinters battled for the stage win in a technical finish.
The strong wind throughout the race seemed perfect for echelons, but despite a few attempts no one was able to make much of a difference. Instead, it was a 90-degree corner about 500 metres from the finish that proved decisive.
Yevgeniy Gidich (AST), Jacopo Mosca (LTK), Sebastian Schonberger (HPM), Norbert Banaszek (POL), Patryk Stosz (POL) formed the day’s breakaway, which managed to maintain a maximum distance of 3’ from the peloton throughout the race and were caught at the 173 km mark.
Bahrain Victorious, Jumbo-Visma, Movistar, Bora-Hansgrohe and Soudal-Quick Step took turns at the front of the peloton imposing the pace and causing many splits in the bunch. Average speed of the day 45.379 km/h.
Jacopo Mosca (LTK) claimed the day’s Mountain Sprint, Patryk Stosz (POL) won all the LOTTO intermediate sprints and Norbert Banasek took the day’s special prize.
The stage – almost 199 kilometres long – is a typical mountain stage, with an elevation gain of over 3,000 metres. The riders will start in Pszczyna and finish in Bielsko-Biała, which has hosted the Tour de Pologne in the past. Before the finish, however, the riders will be confronted with several tough climbs: a 2nd-category PZU KOM at Zameczek (Little Castle) and two 1st-category PZU KOMs at Ochodzita and Salmopol. The latter Mountain Sprint is named after Joachim Halupczok, Poland’s 1988 Olympic medalist. There will also be three LOTTO Intermediate Sprints in Ustroń, Istebna and Wilkowice along the route of stage five.