Mezgec sprints into the top-10 on stage one of the Tour of PolandSat 3 Aug 2019
Slovenian Luka Mezgec sprinted to a top-10 finish on the opening stage of the Tour of Poland as the sprinters took their chance in Krakow.
The 30-year-old was guided into position by his Mitchelton-SCOTT teammates around the technical finishing circuit before getting up for 10th, while Mikel Nieve and the rest of the squad rolled home safely in the pack.
Three riders slipped up the road as soon as the flag dropped on the outskirts of Krakow, with the sprint teams happy to see just a small group establish the day’s breakaway. The trio quickly stretched their advantage out to over three minutes as peloton knocked off the pace in the opening kilometres.
The first stage was billed as one for the sprinters and with a host of fast men on the start line the escapees were never going to be given much leeway. Their slim hopes of survival were dashed further when their numbers were reduced to two as Adrian Kurek (Poland) crashed after contesting one of the intermediate sprints.
The gap back to the bunch soon began to fall before holding steady at the two-minute mark, with the peloton content to allow the duo to dangle out in front until they reached the finishing circuits back in Krakow.
The leading pair were eventually mopped up by the peloton as the four-kilometre finishing circuit approached and the teams with fast men in their ranks amassed at the front of the race. Mitchelton-SCOTT were content to leave the pace making to the sprinter’s teams while Mezgec floated about the bunch around the technical closing laps.
With two laps remaining Kiwi Sam Bewley moved to the fore to look after Mezgec as the fight for position began to ramp up. Bewley’s work was done as the bunch raced under the three-kilometre banner and Australian Alex Edmondson look over the job of positioning Mezgec for the final kick to the line.
Mezgec was left to surf the wheels of the sprint trains under the flamme rouge but he couldn’t match the pace of the pure sprinters in the field as he crossed the line in 10th place while Pascal Ackermann (BORA – hansgrohe) took the opening stage victory.
"Sam brought me nicely up to the front on the final lap and I actually had a good position going into 500-metres to go behind Ackermann. But then I got squeezed from right to left and had to brake, and that meant it’s over for a good result in a sprint."
"But anyway, the feeling was good after coming into the race off the back of a big block of training, so I’m happy about that and we'll see what we can do in the stage that are coming up."
Tour of Poland Stage 1 Results:
1. Pascal Ackermann (BORA - hansgrohe) 2:57:58
2. Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) ST
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck - Quick Step) ST
10. Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
Photos courtesy of Kristof Ramon and Getty Images.