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In His Own Words: Mitch Docker on Tour de Pologne Stage Five

Thu 1 Aug 2013

Thor Hushovd (BMC) sprinted to victory in Zakopane on the fifth stage of Tour of Poland. The Norwegian National Champion handily took his second victory of the Polish Tour ahead of Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ.fr) and Daniele Ratto (Cannondale). Pieter Weening was the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE in 15th place. Although Weening finished on bunch time, we dropped back one spot on the overall as Jon Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took over as race leader thanks to the new ‘attractivity classification’ introduced by the UCI at the Tour of Poland this year.

Weening started stage give in fourth place overall, 7” behind overnight race leader Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff). Having earned his place on the general classification after a strong showing on the opening weekend of mountainous racing in the Italian Dolomites, Weening has successfully protected his position throughout the week.

The ‘attractivity classification’ awards points in each day’s mountain competition and intermediate sprints. The points from each are combined, and the top three point earners score 30”-20”-10” for their feat. Izaguirre finished third in the stage five ‘attractivity’ competition to bank the 10” he needed to leapfrog into the race lead. Weening is now in fifth place, 8” behind Izaguirre, ahead of two decisive days for the general contenders.

Mitch Docker checked in with us following the lumpy day in the saddle. In his own words, he describes the stage from a team perspective.

The breakaway went early today, but Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) was in the move, and he was a bit dangerous for the overall contenders. The race was quite tough for a bit because the peloton wanted to keep Atapuma close. When Atapuma dropped out, the peloton finally let the break open up a gap. It got slightly easier after that, but it was still solid racing all day.

Colombia did most of the chasing. They set a steady tempo until we got closer to the finish circuit. The speeds started ramping up in the last 40km or so. The peloton was still rather large going into the circuit, but as the speed got higher and higher, the pace whittled down the size of the bunch.

Pieter was active on the final climb. I saw him jump with a few moves. There was one move in particular that looked dangerous. I had my head down but I saw him jump. It looked like it could have been a successful move, but I think when the peloton realised that Pieter was in it, they pulled it back straight away. Beyond that, there wasn’t much action in the finish in terms of attacks.

BMC controlled during most of the last lap. They neutralised everything for Thor [Hushovd]. It was a tricky finish. There’s a 3-4km climb followed by a 3km descent. From there, it’s a slight uphill. It’s not a normal sprint. You could call it a hard man’s sprint. I thought maybe I’d try to hang on and have a go, but in the end, I was just trying hold wheels.

I wouldn’t exactly call what happened at the end a sprint. It was everyone throwing themselves at the line, and Thor made it there first. He was definitely the strongest today.

Pieter did a great job protecting himself. We didn’t know anything about Izaguirre’s movement on the overall. That’s not to say they maybe didn’t give that information on the race radio, but we had our hands full today. We were already down to five riders without Durbo [Luke Durbridge] and we lost Jens [Mouris] during the stage. He’s been sick all week. Aidis [Kruopis] and Leigh [Howard] looked after themselves to make it through the stage and that left Pieter more or less on his own. We’ll do our best to look after Pieter tomorrow in the mountainous circuit – the last road stage before Saturday’s time trial closes out the race.

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