Dismal weather conditions animate stage five at the Tour of PolandSat 16 Jul 2016
Challenging weather added to the difficulty on a long stage at the Tour of Poland causing many problems for the riders.
23-year-old Simon Yates was the highest place finisher for ORICA-BikeExchange, battling it out to finish in a respectable 20th place after six hours of racing in the cold, wet conditions.
The race significantly split up throughout the course of the 225km route due to numerous crashes, low temperatures and harsh terrain.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) survived the day to take an impressive solo victory with the rest of the peloton coming in, in ones and twos over three minutes behind.
Sport director Dave McPartland praised Yates' determination on such a tough stage.
"The race was really solid for the first 100kilometres," explained McPartland. "The guys worked really hard to try and get into the day's break. When they hit the circuit it was a really difficult entrance, hilly, narrow and the race split to pieces.
"It dropped down to 10 degrees and continued to rain the whole day so it was really difficult for everyone.
"We lost some of the guys today which is disappointing but hats off to Simon, he made it into a small chasing group which got close to the leader at one point, just 30seconds behind then from there on it was a race of attrition.
"It was really positive to see him on the climbs, he was in the race and showing good signs that he is back up there at the pointy end after such a long time away from racing.
"We can take positives from this, it showed he is at the level already in his first race back."
How it happened:
The first real test for the riders in the hills wasn't made any easier with low temperatures and heavy rain for the majority of the stage.
Within the first 50km numerous crashes occurred and several riders had to abandon the race with problems. The pace remained very steady due to the conditions with a few unsuccessful breakaway attempts.
After 90km of racing the weather gradually became worse, but finally a breakaway established itself containing 18 riders. The group rode out to a three minute advantage with ORICA-BikeExchange riders all within the main peloton.
Once the race arrived onto the final two finishing laps of 50kilometres, and with seven categories climbs ahead, four of the original breakaway riders struggled with the pace and were eventually caught by the bunch.
The time gap dropped down to just over a minute with still one and a half laps, 75kilometres to go until the finish line. During these laps the peloton climbed to an maximum altitude of 1137kilometres and the temperatures dropped even more, falling down to just ten degrees with more riders abandoning the race.
Heavy, wet kit and cold tired legs made the race a challenging enough without taking into consideration the severity of the climbs and the long distance.
The breakaway and the peloton began significantly split into various different groups as the race headed through the finish line with one 50km lap remaining.
Yates was able to climb with the best and make it into a small chase group collecting the breakaway remains as three riders continued to lead just one minute ahead.
The leading trio began split up within the final lap as Wellens left his breakaway companions riding the final 25km of the race solo and as the chase group behind eased the pace, the time gap jumped back out to over two minutes.
Wellens eventually claimed the stage victory, 3minutes 48seconds ahead of his nearest rival and moves into the overall lead.
ORICA-BikeExchange start the penultimate stage tomorrow with just three riders, Yates, Jack Haig and Svein Tuft.
Tour of Poland stage five results:
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 5:55:49
2. David Formolo (Cannondale) +3:48
3. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) +4:37
21. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) +12:37
General classification after stage five:
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) 23:16:53
2. David Formolo (Cannondale) +4:05
3. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) +4:50
20. Simon Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) +13:00