Mitchelton-SCOTT animate the race on a punishing sixth stage of the Tour of Poland

Thu 8 Aug 2019

Basque climber Mikel Nieve was the top finisher for Mitchelton-SCOTT on a brutal and relentless day of climbing on stage six of the Tour of Poland.

Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay lit up the race in the closing kilometres with a solo attack, but it wasn’t to be for the squad as Nieve came home in 19th at the end of punishing stage.

Frantic Start

It was a fast and frantic start to the action with the first of six categorised coming as soon as the peloton rolled out of Zakopane for the 160-kilometre stage. The attacks were constant as move after move came and went over the opening two loops around the 28.9-kilometre circuit.

Mitchelton-SCOTT were active in the early attempts to get down the road with Australians Damien Howson and Nick Schultz following the moves until a group of four eventually snapped the elastic and went clear. The peloton finally seemed content to let a break go and the escapees were free with 100km remaining.

The quartet were allowed a maximum advantage of around three-minutes, but the peloton were keen to keep them at arms-reach. As the penultimate ascent of the Pitoniwka climb approached the gap had fallen dramatically thanks to an increase in pace back in the peloton.

On The Attack

That increase in pace saw the bunch split to pieces and as the breakaway were mopped up on the climb just 30-riders remained at the head of the race, with Grmay amongst them. A small chase group containing Schultz and Nieve eventually bridged across and as the pace slowed, Grmay attacked solo with 25-kilometres to go.

The Ethiopian was joined by Ben Swift (Team INEOS) five-kilometres later and the duo worked together to stretch their lead out to over 40-seconds. However, the final time up the Pitoniwka did for Grmay, as he was distanced by Swift before being caught by the chase group containing Schultz and Nieve.

A counter attack soon followed and Nieve attempted to latch onto the three-rider move but couldn’t quite make it as they went in pursuit of the lone leader. The trio eventually caught and passed Swift on the final climb and went onto contest the win, with Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) taking the stage, while Nieve rolled home in 19th place, 51-seconds down.

Tsgabu Grmay:
“It was a really tough day, really hard from the beginning and the speed was high. The plan was to try to get one of us in the breakaway if it was a big group. We tried and we were in some moves, but it was really complicated with guys coming and going.”

“At the end we were waiting for the last moment and the race situation was really complicated because everyone was tired, and I just had a try. Also, in the team meeting we had an open plan, with support for Nieve but also if there was a chance to attack, we could try, with me, Nick or Damien."

“At the end I felt good. They caught me at the top, but you never know if you don’t try, so we tried our best and everyone was giving 100%.”

Mikel Nieve:
"Today was one of the hardest races I’ve had this year. We went really fast from the beginning and it was almost like an elimination race. In the final I wasn't too far away, but I lacked a bit of strength to be with the best." 

"For tomorrow I hope that it will be a hard day again with similar profile as today and being the last day everyone will try something. Today I think that the team was good, especially Tsgabu in the final so tomorrow we will give everything to try to finish the race as best as possible."

Tour of Poland Stage 6 Results:
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) 4:07:13
2. Pavel Sivakov (Team INEOS) ST
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) ST
4. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:51

Tour of Poland General Classification After Stage 6:

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) 22:13:57 
2. Pavel Sivakov (Team INEOS) +0:04
3. Jai Hindley (Team Sunweb) +0:06
18. Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) +1:01

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.