Tour of Poland Weekend Report

Sun 28 Jul 2013

The Tour de Pologne began in Italy this weekend with two difficult days in the mountains.  After posting back-to-back top ten finishes on the first two stages, Pieter Weening sits in fourth overall, 7” outside of the race lead. The peloton now travels to Poland where a projected sprint stage awaits them following a rest day on Monday. Weening hopes to protect his overall ambitions while supporting his teammates in the upcoming sprints.

Weening came to fore on day one on the ascent of the category one Madonna di Campiglio summit finish. The Cannondale-led peloton swept up the remnants of the early break on the lower slopes of the final climb. Cayetano Sarmiento (Cannondale) launched the first attack from the field. Tomasz Marczynski (Vacansoleil-DCM) countered the move. The Pole was joined by his teammate Rafael Valls and Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp).

With the trio slowly building their advantage, Pieter Weening accelerated away from the bunch. He bridged across and quickly powered past Marczynski, Valls and Howes. Six kilometres from the finish, Weening was the lone leader with 35” in hand on his chasers.

A group of 14 riders emerged in Weening’s wake. The chase group splintered with Eros Capecchi (Cannondale) and Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) making contact with Weening before the KOM line. Attacks from the chase group neutralised the move. Inside the final kilometre, 15 riders charged toward the line. Chasing the stage win, Weening launched another solo bid for glory but was caught 300m from the line. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won the sprint. Weening finished on the same time in tenth place.

“I went on the attack at the end of the race,” said Weening. “I wanted to win the stage. It almost happened. I was caught before the line but still finished in the front group in the end. Yesterday was a really good day for me for the GC. I was close for the stage win, and it’s a shame to miss it, but for us, as a team, these first two days were good. Most of our guys are here for the sprints. I’m the only one for mountains. What we could achieve here, we did.”

The early breakaway dominated the action on stage two with Christophe Riblon (Ag2r La Mondiale) staying away to take a solo victory. Back in the bunch, the overall favourites marked one another.

“I stayed with the favourites today,” explained Weening. “I didn’t go up the road. They would have chased down any move that I was in. There was the early break and the overall contenders. There were those two races today.”

“The peloton made a solid pace,” Weening continued. “In the end, only a few guys were able to survive those last climbs. It was survival of the fittest in the final.”

Crossing the line on the Passo Pordoi in sixth place, Weening jumped up to fourth overall. Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) moved into the leader’s jersey ahead of Sergio Henao (Sky) in second at 4” and Riblon in third at 6”.

“There were no big time gaps with the favourites today,” said Weening. “I’m in a good position at the moment – fourth place at 7”. It’s better to be up there now than to have to make gains later. I’ll do my best to continue this way. The legs are good right now. I had a rest period after the Giro and a good build-up in training to this race. Everything is coming together.”

“There are still five stages in Poland including a time trial,” Weening added. “We’ll have to see day by day what I can do. There are some hard stages in Poland, but these two days in Italy were the hardest part. I’m on GC now, so I will try to defend it of course.”

While Weening was happy with the way his two days of racing unfolded, he expressed disappointment for his teammate. Luke Durbridge was unable to finish stage two.

“I’m sad for Luke that he had to pull today,” said Weening. “He was feeling sick. This is his first race back after the Giro, too, and I know he wanted a nice result in the time trial.”