Stage win in Poland for Matej Mohoric
The second stage of this year’s Tour de Pologne featured some steep ramps in its finale. Matej Mohoric made good use of those and his good form to cross the finish line as the stage winner. One day earlier, his Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS mate Pello Bilbao had already scored a 2nd place at the one-day race Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa.
Being part of the UCI’s World Tour, this year’s Tour de Pologne serves up three flattish stages for sprinters, while the three more demanding stages with uphill finishes and a flat individual time trial over 16.6 kilometres will be decisive in the fight for the general classification. The start list features plenty of well-known names, with Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS riding in service of its GC captain Matej Mohoric. While Damiano Caruso and Antonio Tiberi ride in his support, Matevz Govekar can rely on Andrea Pasqualon for a proper lead-out in the sprint. Adding to the team’s strength are Kamil Gradek and Fran Miholjevic, who both can sustain a fast pace at the head of the peloton. As for the team’s ambitions, we are talking about stage wins and a podium result on GC.
The rain-battered finale of the first stage was marred by a series of crashes before a heavily reduced peloton could sprint for the stage win. While Matevz Govekar had to settle for 16th place, the race jury, more importantly, decided to cancel all time benefits due to the many crashes in the finale. Thus the race started from scratch on day 2 where riders faced a stage over 202.9 kilometres, with a selective finale and multiple climbs following a mostly flat first half. The three attackers of the day were brought back with 24 kilometres to go, and as expected, the final ascent to Karpacz was to be the arena for the fight for the stage win, particularly those steep final 1.6 kilometres to the line. Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS fully focused on getting Matej Mohoric into this finale in a promising position.
The team truly did an excellent job in this: When two riders went on the attack on the penultimate kilometre, Mohoric was part of a select group of riders who managed to get back and past the early attackers to duke it out for the stage win. On the last 200 meters the Slovene had enough power left to beat João Almeida in the uphill sprint to the line, winning the stage and also taking over the leader’s jersey of the Tour de Pologne. For Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, this was the 13th victory of the season. "Ever since the Tour de France ended, I felt very good in training, so I was looking forward to this race. And I was almost getting nervous deep into the finale since things were working out so well - also thanks to what was probably the best collective effort of this team I have witnessed since joining it“, a more than just happy Matej Mohoric said right after the race.
One day earlier, the 43rd edition of the one-day race Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa had been held in the Basque Country. Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS entered this race with Mikel Landa and Pello Bilbao as its co-leaders, supported by Yukiya Arashiro, Santiago Buitrago, Jonathan Milan, Johan Price-Pejtersen and Edoardo Zambanini. The early attackers were brought back on the successive Jaizkibel and Erlaitz climbs, and a select five-rider group went up the road. At the end of the steep Murgil Tontorra, at the day’s final climb ,only Pello Bilbao and Remco Evenepoel were left up front. The latter proved to be the fresher rider when it came down to the two-up sprint in San Sebastian, so Pello Bilbao had to settle for 2nd.Which still is his best result to date in the most prestigious one-day race of his native Basque Country.
80TH TOUR DE POLOGNE, STAGE 2: LESZNO - KARPACZ, 202.9 KM
1. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:56.59 hours
2. João Almeida, POR, st
3. Michal Kwiatkowski, POL, + 0.04
43RD DONOSTIA SAN SEBASTIAN KLASIKOA: SAN SEBASTIAN - SAN SEBASTIAN, 230.3 KM
1. Remco Evenepoel, BEL, in 5:30.59 hours
2. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Aleksandr Vlasov, RUS, + 0.28
Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency