Pieter Weening Maintains Fifth Overall Ahead of Tour of Poland Final StageFri 2 Aug 2013
Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) emerged from the early breakaway to win the penultimate stage of the Tour of Poland. The Colombian gave his team their first WorldTour victory by outsprinting Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale) to the line in Bukowina Tatrzanska. Riblon, who bridged up to the race leaders in the closing kilometres of stage six, unseated Jon Izaguirre (Euskaltel-Euskadi) on the top of the general classification.
Pieter Weening had another strong showing in the Polish Tour, finishing with the 16-rider yellow jersey group. His effort was good for sixth on the stage, 22” behind Atapuma and 20” behind Riblon. Weening maintains fifth overall, now at 27”, ahead of the final stage time trial.
Ten category one climbs over five circuit laps proved a tough day in the saddle for the peloton. Atapuma was part of a five rider escape group that formed on the opening lap. The early breakaway swelled to include 32 riders by the mid-point of the stage.
“Today was a really hard stage,” noted Weening. “We did five loops of this ridiculously hard circuit, and it’s the sort of race where it’s just survival of the fittest. It was really hot today, and everyone was sweating a lot. Nutrition and hydration became very important. If you forget to drink for 30 minutes, it can be all over.”
As the break began the final lap, the unforgiving nature of the course had naturally reduced the size of the group to 13 riders including Atapuma, Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), Sandy Casar (FDJ.fr), Leopold König (NetApp-Endura), Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat), Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack Leopard Trek), Ivan Santaromita and Mathias Frank (BMC), Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Sergei Chernetskiy (Katusha), Francis De Greef (Lotto Belisol), and Kevin De Weert and Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step).
Howes attacked over the penultimate climb. Although he was unable to stay away, the move further reduced the size of the front group. Atapuma led seven riders over the Zab KOM. A final attack from Atapuma foreshadowed the winning move that would come inside the final three kilometres.
The Colombian was joined by Chernetskiy over the last KOM. Riblon attacked from the peloton, pedalled past the remnants of the break and joined the two leaders. Weening patrolled the front of the bunch in the wake of the lead trio.
“In the end, I felt quite okay,” Weening said. “My shape was good today. Yesterday, I was feeling a little less but today I felt the way I did last weekend in Italy.”
Atapuma attacked Riblon and Chernetskiy 2.6km from the finish, and only Riblon was able to respond. Atapuma launched a second missive with the finish line in sight. He held off Riblon to take the stage win. Riblon finished in second place, 2” behind Atapuma, and Konig won the small group sprint for third.
“Everybody is still close together in the top ten overall,” said Weening. “The race is not decided yet. I have to do a good time trial tomorrow to get a good result. I’m ready to give everything and see how it goes.”
Weening was unable to predict what the overall classification would look like after the final stage time trial.
“A lot about tomorrow will depend on recovery today,” he said. “The guy who recovers the best has a good chance of going the fastest. There’s no one in the top ten that’s a pure time trial specialist, but some can do the time trial better than others.”
“I don’t know if the win is possible for me,” he said. “I don’t know, but I’ll give everything. I can’t tell you tomorrow what place I expect to be. I’ll go full gas and see what the result is in the end. With how things have gone so far, I’m really happy.”