In His Own Words: Leigh Howard on Tour of Poland Stage 1

Sun 5 Aug 2012

Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale) won the opening stage of the Tour of Poland in Jelenia Góra from a 33-rider strong front group. Climbs and crashes split the field in the closing kilometers. Ahead of the finish, Daniel Teklehaimanot, in his new Eritrean National Championship kit, spent the hilly day in a five-rider break and earned the mountains classification jersey for his efforts. Leigh Howard checked in to tell you about the day.

Today was a bit of an unknown for a lot of riders on ORICA-GreenEDGE. As I discussed in the race preview, we have riders returning from injury – including Julian Dean and Tomas Vaitkus – and we have riders racing after a long break away from the pro peloton. The main goal today was to keep Daniel in touch with the overall contenders. While it was great that he gained the mountains jersey, he wasn’t the ideal person for us to have in a break. The field reabsorbed the escape group on the day’s final climb, and Daniel ended up losing contact with the front group over the summit.

As for the rest of us, we’re satisfied with how the first day went. The parcours didn’t suit the style of riding for most of our riders. The stage included more than 2,500 meters of climbing. We didn’t get any sort of remarkable result today, but other than Daniel and Fumy, we’re not here with climbers. We’re focused on the sprint stage – and our first chance in the sprints comes tomorrow.

There was quite a big crash at the base of the final climb. Nearly everyone on the team, other than Daniel, was caught up in the crash in one way or another. After the crash, we rode to the finish in whatever group we could find.

I spoke briefly to Julian after the race, and he reported feeling satisfied with today. It really was a hard opener. The pace was on from the word go. The break went up the road fast, and the bunch settled slightly. Then, the break went out to nine minutes quite quickly, and the rest of the field hit the panic station. So, it was hard riding again from there on out. Considering it was such a difficult day, Julian was happy with his condition. By the end of the week, I suspect he’ll be going really well.

Look for us to take control in the last five or ten kilometers of stage two tomorrow. We’re working for Aidis Kruopis in the sprint. We have a strong lead out train, and we’re eager to go for the stage win.