Tour de Pologne Stage 5: Brambilla Battles for 4th, Vakoc Holds on to Yellow by a Second
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team battled all the way to the line in the crucial, 190km Stage 5 of Tour de Pologne on Thursday.
Gianluca Brambilla had great position going into the last few hundred meters of the Cat. 1 summit finish, but launched just a bit too early as Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) came over the top of him for the victory in a select group of about 22 riders. Benat Intxausti (Movistar) was 2nd, and Ion Izaguirre (Movistar) was 3rd. Brambilla finished 4th.
Petr Vakoc did a fantastic job in the yellow jersey after being protected once again by his teammates all day. He lost contact with the peloton in the final kilometer, but went full gas to the finish and held on to his GC leadership by a second over Majka by crossing 26" down.
Attacks out of the peloton were well controlled, and despite some accelerations in the peloton on the final climb, no one was able to get much of a gap.
Vakoc and OPQS will once again defend the GC leadership in a hilly, 174km Stage 6 on Friday.
"Today I felt really good on the climb," Brambilla said. "All day my legs felt strong. Then in the final I was controlling, I worked also to help Petr stay in front. Then on the last kilometers I was in front with Wout Poels. I was in good position for the sprint. I looked over my shoulder and I saw that Majka started to sprint. So I launched my sprint in reaction, but then Majka was simply faster. I probably started a bit early but it was likely the best chance for me with that kind of speed from Majka. So, I am happy with my result. This is my first race after the Giro d'Italia, so it's a good comeback. Tomorrow will be another hard stage. I know it from last year and it will be again hard. But, we are pretty confident that we can do well so we can go into the final time trial in a good position."
"It was a really hard finish," Vakoc said. "At 5 kilometers to go I was still with the front group pushing as hard as I could. I tried to limit my losses. I did that climb before only the opposite way. So I knew how to descend it, but I also knew how steep it would be going up. I knew it would be really challenging but I had a chance to keep the jersey. When I crossed the line I saw that the time gap was 27 seconds, which was close enough where I thought I could stay in the jersey, but then I was waiting for a while and then they told me that I lost the jersey. So, I was disappointed and went to the hotel. I went to take a shower but wanted to see first what the gap was, between Majka and I, for the overall. I opened Twitter and I saw the OPQS Tweet that there was actually enough of a gap where I actually kept the lead. So it was a really nice surprise and I'm happy I can wear this jersey for another stage. I have to thank my teammates for again taking good care of me today to give me a chance to fight."