Aidis Kruopis Sprints to First WorldTour Win in PolandSun 5 Aug 2012
Aidis Kruopis proved his form has returned with a decisive victory on the fourth stage of the Tour of Poland. Beating out Ben Swift (Sky Procycling) and Theo Bos (Rabobank) to the line, Kruopis won the mass finish in Katowice to earn his first WorldTour win.
“This is a special victory for me and the team,” said Kruopis. “ORICA-GreenEDGE has shown their faith in me, and it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to win in Poland. I’m happy to show the team what I could do.”
The shortest stage of the Polish Tour began with local circuit laps in the start town of Bedzin. Forty kilometers took the peloton from the start circuits to the finish circuits in Katowice.
“The break took about 50-55 kilometers to go free,” said Leigh Howard, who provided the final lead out for Kruopis. “Once they went away, the peloton almost immediately took up the chase, and that was the day.”
Heading into the tight final circuit laps, teams fought for positions at the front of the pack.
“Everyone wanted to be at the front,” noted Howard. “We had Julian Dean and Jens Mouris hit the circuits on the front because they were still working to bring back the break.”
Mission accomplished, Dean and Mouris peeled off the front and left Howard and Mitch Docker to assist Kruopis in the sprint.
“Mitch kept the pace high and Leigh lead me to 800 meters,” explained Kruopis. “I went around the last corner behind the Sky train. I was just behind Swift, and he had two teammates in front of him. They pulled until he opened his sprint. At 100 meters, I started sprinting. I passed Swift, and I won.”
Kruopis feels both satisfied and relieved with his first WorldTour victory.
“I had some problems in the middle part of the season,” admitted Kruopis. “I spent ten days in Slovenia riding in the mountains to get in the best shape I could for Tour of Poland. I wanted to improve myself and show the team that I could do something here.”
Tour of Poland now travels to the mountains for two hilly stages. Daniel Teklehaimanot will look to defend his lead in the mountains classification this weekend before the race conclusion in Krakow on Monday.
“The last stage is quite similar to the type of stage we raced today,” noted Kruopis. “I need to survive the upcoming mountains, and if I do, I think there could be something there for me on Monday.”