After three podium finishes earlier this week, Sky’s Danny van Poppel finally scored a win at Tour of Poland in stage 5. The Dutchman survived a hilly 130km route and a treacherous final kilometer in Rzeszów that saw the field split by a crash.
Orica-Scott’s Luka Mezgec, a key lead-out man for Caleb Ewan, winner of stage 4, sprinted to second. Race leader Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was third.
“I’m very happy; after two seconds and a third place, today victory was finally mine,” said van Poppel. “It was a short stage but a very hard day. First, we really had to give it our all to get over the climbs and go catch the fugitives. Then the rain made everything even more difficult.”
The world champion Sagan kept his overall lead, with BMC’s Dylan Teuns second and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) third.
American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) animated the day, attacking out of the breakaway late in the race. He went over the final categorized climb first and alone, with about 10km remaining.
However, Sky was keen to set up van Poppel for the sprint and caught van Garderen inside of the final five kilometers.
With the roads wet from rainy conditions, a number of riders crashed on a right-hand bend with less than one kilometer to the finish.
Youcef Reguigui (Dimension Data) attacked the small lead group with about 500 meters to go.
Sky kept cool and chased down the Algerian.
Sagan was well-positioned, right on van Poppel’s wheel, but he couldn’t make the final surge to challenge him for the win. Mezgec accelerated on the left to take second place.
Thursday’s stage 6 to Zakopane is similar to stage 5, with five categorized climbs stacked late in the route. It will be a longer day though, at 189km.
“Although in terms of kilometers it was a short stage, it was however a hard one, with short but rough climbs, and we rode hard for the entire stage,” Sagan said. “I am happy, everything went well for us and we made it through another day to hang on to the yellow jersey. Tomorrow we’ll see what happens.”
Stage 5, top five
1. Danny Van Poppel (NED/SKY), in 2h59:44
2. Luka Mezgec (SVK/ORS), s.t.
3. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOH), s.t.
4. Roberto Ferrari (ITA/UAD), s.t.
5. Enrico Battaglin (ITA/TLJ), s.t.
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/Bora), in 18h41:27.
2. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BMC), at 0:14.
3. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR), at 0:20.
4. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN), at 0:24.
5. Odd Christian Eiking (NOR/FDJ), at 0:31.