After settling for second place Thursday, Sky’s Wout Poels won the final stage at Tour of Poland Friday. The Dutchman sprinted out of a group of five to win stage 7 ahead of Adam Yates (Orica-Scott). Poland’s Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) was third on the day.
“I felt really good at this race. I trained very well,” said Poels. “I was struggling with a bit of a knee injury earlier this season so it’s really nice to be back on a good level and here in Poland it’s really nice to race, a lot of great roads and a good atmosphere, it’s really nice.”
Although Majka earned a four-second time bonus on the line, it wasn’t enough to beat BMC Racing’s Dylan Teuns on GC. Teuns was fifth in the sprint, but he kept the others close to avoid a time gap. It was the Belgian’s second stage race victory of the season after winning Tour de Wallonie in July. Majka ended up only two seconds behind the 25-year-old in the overall. Poels was another second behind to complete the GC podium.
“I had a great week in Wallonia last week but this is a higher level it’s an incredible week for me and it’s a big victory for me to win a world tour GC, it’s a big step in my career,” said Teuns.
Bora-Hansgrohe rode an aggressive race, aiming to help Majka pull back a six-second deficit to Teuns.
World champion Peter Sagan went off the front, descending fearlessly on the narrow, sinuous roads that went over six categorized climbs during the 132.5km race. “I was savoring being out front, the situation in back was better for Rafa if he could have someone in the front so that was the tactic,” Sagan said.
The chase group caught Sagan with about 10km to go, before the final climb to Bukowina Tatrzanska.
Majka stepped up the pace with about two kilometers remaining, drawing out a handful of top climbers. Teuns kept his cool and followed wheels on the gradual climb.
Into the final kilometer, Teuns’s BMC teammate Tejay van Garderen went to the front to drive the pace. This effectively prevented attacks until the last 200 meters. Then, Poels started his sprint, and only Yates, Majka, Teuns, and Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) could follow.
“At one moment I was a little bit behind, and I was really lucky I still had a teammate, Tejay Van Garderen with me,” said Teuns. “It was really incredible, what he did to bring me back.”
Majka tried to come past in the final meters, but he was on the outside of a gradual left-hand curve. If he could have passed Yates, he’d have earned a six-second time bonus. Instead, Teuns hung on to the yellow jersey by a narrow margin.
“I tried, really I tried today, on the last climb,” said Majka. “Maybe it was too late because it was not so steep, and the riders with me were not so many seconds behind: Kelderman only four seconds, Poels … It’s like a lottery, it’s not easy. I tried three or four times, and in the end I’m second by two seconds, but I’m so happy, because the team helped me a lot today.”
Stage 7, top five
1. Wout Poels (NED/SKY), in 3h26:20
2. Adam Yates (GBR/ORS), s.t.
3. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR), s.t.
4. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN), s.t.
5. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BMC), s.t.
1. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BMC), in 27h07:47
2. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR), at 0:02.
3. Wout Poels (NED/SKY), at 0:03.
4. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN), at 00:10.
5 Adam Yates (GBR/ORS), at 00:13.