In His Own Words: Mitch Docker on Tour of Poland Stage 5

Sun 5 Aug 2012

The main objective today at Tour of Poland was for Daniel Teklehaimanot to get in the breakaway and earn more points towards the mountains classification jersey. He pulled on the mountains jersey on stage one, and he’s been it ever since. Today was a mountainous stage (and tomorrow is, too), so there were lots of points up for grabs. If Dan couldn’t get in the break, he needed to pick up points wherever he could along the road. The rest of us were tasked with survival. We needed to get through the day. If any of us had the legs, we’d see what we could do at the finish.

Stage five began with a flurry of attacks. Daniel went up the road a few times, but he didn’t end up in the move that finally stuck. Four riders went away, and at first Daniel had to settle for points for fifth place from the bunch. He twice managed fifth, over the first and third climb, and added two points each time to his tally.

As it turned out, Mikhail Ignatyev (Katusha) attacked his breakmates, and he rode away alone. The field overtook the other three riders fairly quickly, and more points were up for grabs. Daniel took third on the fourth climb and claimed two additional points. Ignatyev rejoined the bunch before the final two climbs, and points became less critical. Over the course of the day, Dan extended his lead in the mountains classification to 11 points over Ignatyev.

The rest of us did what we were told. We survived.  I was dropped on the final climb today. Despite losing contact, it’s clear that I’m becoming more useful to the team as the race has progressed. I can do more and more with each passing stage. I still don’t have the great form that I need to be in these races at the finish, but I can tell it’s not far away.

In the end, Fumy Beppu had the best legs of the team. He got over the last climb with the front group. He was fourth in the final corner, and he tried to see what he could do in the sprint but was completely swarmed. He’s not a sprinter, and there were still a lot of sprinters at the front. He didn’t have the legs for the finish in the end.

We’re looking forward not to tomorrow but the  dayafter tomorrow. The final stage in Krakow is another chance for us to line Aidis Kruopis up for the sprint. Tomorrow will be a difficult day in the mountains. We’ll have the same goals we had today. We’ll look to Daniel to do what he can to pick up points for the jersey, and the rest of us will look to survive.

Knowing that we are focused on Monday, we’ll not only want to survive tomorrow but we’ll want to conserve where possible. This means we look for the best opportunity to get to the finish in the easiest way to save as much energy as we can for when it’s really needed.