With the race leader’s jersey on the back of the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, today, it was incumbent on the BORA-hansgrohe riders to keep him safe on the second day of the Tour de Pologne. Driving a brutally fast pace throughout the day, the team kept Peter safe and delivered him to the line to contest the finish. Numerous attacks in the finale left the bunch contesting a messy sprint, where Peter took eighth after being boxed in.
The second day of the race saw riders tackling a similarly undulating parcours to the first stage in Kraków, with two categorised climbs over its 142km length, both coming towards the end of the stage, where the route covered a 17km finishing circuit three times. While there was a slight kick up to the finale, the stage has traditionally been earmarked for a sprint, and barring any upsets, it was likely this would be the case today.
Looking to create such an upset for the sprinters, the day’s break went from the drop of the flag at the start of the stage. Four riders built up an advantage swiftly, and while this gap didn’t exceed three minutes as the day went on, it held steady and the escapees looked confident off the front. With 50km raced, it seems the pace wasn’t high enough in the break, and a solo rider attacked, leaving the remnants of the escape to be mopped up by the peloton. Keeping their distance, the BORA-hansgrohe riders were controlling the pace in the bunch, keeping race leader, Peter Sagan, safe, but as the race entered the 17km finishing circuit for the first time, the gap was dropping steadily, and just before the final lap of this circuit, the catch was made and it was all back together.
With the peloton as one, there was every risk that another attack could come, given that there were still 20km of racing to go, and every opportunity for a late grab for glory, but with BORA-hansgrohe driving the high pace in the bunch, this was going to make this that much more difficult. Attacks came and went, making the fast pace even more demanding as the peloton worked harder to keep things together. The final kilometres passed and with 500m to go, a messy sprint started, the brutally fast pace having taken its toll. Peter, in his race leader’s yellow jersey, found himself boxed in as the bunch spread out, and in spite of picking off several places in the push to the line, the Slovak rider had to settle for eighth position. At the end of the day, Peter was tied for the GC top spot, with three riders sharing the same time.
hansgrohe teammates for bringing him to the finish safely. “As expected, stage 2 of the Tour de Pologne was very fast and finished with a bunch sprint. The team did a very good job of protecting me – pulling hard at the front to close the gaps and neutralise the attacks. Unfortunately, I was closed in the finale and wasn’t able to sprint the way I wanted. However, I felt in good form and with strong legs, so I’m confident about my chances in the upcoming stages.”
Sports Director, Christian Pömer, saw how hard the team had to work today – both to protect the yellow jersey and to deliver Peter to the finish. “Due to the high speed sprint, with the final kilometre a downhill slope to the finish, we knew today not only strong legs would count – you would also need luck in timing. With Peter in yellow, the team had the added responsibility of working hard to close all the gaps, therefore we lost two riders during the stage because they gave their all. We worked hard to bring Peter to the finish in a good position, and hoped he would have a good gap and some luck. Unfortunately that didn’t happen today and he couldn’t sprint like he wanted, but that’s a part of cycling. The team worked very well together and in tomorrow’s mountain stage we’re hoping for another good chance for us!”
Stage three sees the race take on a different character. After a flat opening 70km, the road will rise upwards steadily before taking in no fewer than four first category climbs. While not a summit finish, these four climbs will mean only the strongest riders will be in a position to contest the finale, and this is a day to expect the GC contest to really take shape.