Victory and yellow jersey for Gaviria in Poland
The Colombian took his second World Tour win of the season in a thrilling bunch sprint.
Fernando Gaviria's road to Rio de Janeiro, where he hopes to capture a gold medal on the track in the Omnium race, passes through Poland, where the 21-year-old scored a thrilling win at the end of a stage controlled by his Etixx – Quick-Step teammates. But long before Gaviria dashed to the line in Katowice, it was another of the squad's riders, Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels, who came into the spotlight by putting in a rapid acceleration and making it into the day's first break, where he was joined by nine riders.
However, that move didn't stick, so shortly after, another group, this time counting five men, took off. The quintet – Marcel Aregger (IAM Cycling), Artur Detko (Poland), Jonas Koch (Verva ActiveJet), Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana) and Lukasz Owsian (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) established a maximum lead of three minutes, which began to melt once they entered the local circuit in Katowice. There, the fast and furious chasers didn't give them a chance and reeled in the five, making sure stage 2 of the Tour de Pologne will end up in a bunch sprint.
Giro d'Italia white jersey Bob Jungels took command of affairs, stringing out the peloton and paving the way for his teammates. The Etixx – Quick-Step lead-out train hit the front and made sure of bringing Fernando Gaviria in an excellent position before the final 300 meters. General classification leader Davide Martinelli escorted the Colombian, who made use of his incredible turn of speed and held at bay Elia Viviani (Team Sky) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), claiming his fourth victory of the season, one which catapulted him to first place in the overall standings of the race.
"It wasn't an easy stage, and the finale was really complicated, because we had a headwind and a downhill sprint. Before the stage, I talked with the team and decided to use a 54 chainring, which was the best solution for such a sprint. On the circuit, everybody wanted to be at the front, so thing became really stressful", said Gaviria, who now has won stages at the Tour de San Luis, Tour La Provence, Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour de Pologne since turning pro.
Besides the general classification – where he is joined on the podium by stage 1 winner Davide Martinelli – the 21-year-old is also leading the points rankings and is determined to fight for other strong results in the next flat stages, before returning the service to his teammates: "The guys were great, keeping me out of trouble and doing a flawless job today. We are very happy with this victory, which is of the entire team. In the Tour de Suisse I wasn't at 100%, but I worked hard after the race and now things came together. We will see what the other stages for sprinters will bring, as we are motivated to be again among the protagonists, before we will go into the harder part of the race, where I will try to repay my teammates for their help."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele