Mezgec shocks top sprinters to take victory on stage two of the Tour of Poland

Sun 4 Aug 2019

Slovenian Luka Mezgec upset the odds by beating some of the best sprinters in the world in a frantic finish to stage two of the Tour of Poland.

The 30-year-old opened up the sprint on the fast, downhill run to the line and held off his rivals to take a famous victory in Katowice.

Leisurely Start

It was a steady start to the second day of racing as two riders attacked from the gun to form the breakaway, with nobody else willing to join them on what was set to be another stage for the sprinters.

The sprint teams were more than happy to see just two riders clear of the bunch and they allowed the pair to gain a maximum advantage of more than six-minutes before pegging it back to around the three-minute mark for most of the stage.

As the bunch passed through the finish line for the first time the gap had fallen to just over one-minute, but the peloton were eager not to reel the break back too early and allowed the pair to move back out to two-minutes.

Frantic Finale

As the race reached two laps to go the gap was back down to 1’30” as the sprint teams looked to measure their efforts with the duo coming into sight heading onto the final lap. They were caught soon after and Mitchelton-SCOTT moved to the fore to keep Mezgec safe on the run back into town.

The fight for position was on as the peloton raced through the technical closing kilometres, with cobbles and road furniture to negotiate. Mezgec was marshalled into position by his teammates with Australian Alex Edmondson tasked with dropping the Slovenian off at the head of the bunch as they raced around a roundabout inside the final kilometre.

The downhill run for the line made for a frantic finale and as riders hesitated Mezgec dived for a gap and opened up the sprint. The move forced a reaction for the sprinters, but it was too late and Mezgec stormed across the line to take a famous win by more than a bike length.

Luka Mezgec:
"It feels good. I’ve been trying for a while to win again in a WorldTour race, I haven’t had many chances with all the sprinters we have in the team. But in Poland, many times I was second, third, fourth, top-five and this time it came all together. Everything came together, I was totally on the left then I started sprinting moving towards the right and then I saw Gaviria, he actually gave me a bit of a slingshot."

"This sprint is really specific because it’s such a high speed and actually the last kilometre is straightforward, so you need a bit of luck, you need good timing, you need big gears also because the speeds are over 80-kilometres per hour."

"I don’t watch the big names anymore because every sprint is a new game, a new lottery. I knew when I had to start that I had to come from behind because in a sprint like this when you are second wheel you don’t do much, but once you are in the wind you do a lot more work."

Gene Bates (Sports Director):
“It was a very impressive win. The fact that he executed the sprint the way he did is impressive itself, let alone the victory. The guys did a good job of pulling him into position in the last couple of kilometres and we knew that would be critical because if we left it any later we wouldn’t be able to move him up.”

“Luka came out of the last roundabout in a really good position and with such a fast downhill run to the finish you don’t want to be too close to the front. Then he got a beautiful run right down the centre and carried a lot of momentum and won by two or three lengths in the end.”

“We looked at the finish last night and looked at last year’s video footage where he ran fourth, so we had a really good idea of how to approach it and what he needed to do. Full credit to him, he knew exactly where he needed to be at the right time and he executed it to perfection.”

Tour of Poland Stage 2 Results:
1. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:32:42
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) ST
3. Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) ST

Tour of Poland General Classification After Stage 2:
1. Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) 6:30:26
2. Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk) +0:01
3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) +0:02
4. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:04

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.