Tour of Poland 2014 – Stage 6 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Poland 2014 – Stage 6 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 5 Recap

We got the expected “bunch”sprint, after a very long, drag up to the finishing line. Movistar seemed to have got their tactics spot on, but when Capecchi jumped, his teammates didn’t follow. Intxausti, still managed to get in a good position and looked like he might take the win, but home favourite Rafal Majka pulled it out the bag. It was a great win, especially as he seemed to be struggling on the final climb. Petr Vakoc put in a good effort and held onto yellow by 1 second. Well done Petr!

Stage 6 Bukovina – Bukowina 174km

Say hello to pain!

pol5The riders tackle the brutal circuit stage, that has become a fixture in the race. First introduced in 2011, this stage has quickly become a firm favourite. Past winners of the stage are:

2011 – Dan Martin

2012 – Moreno Moser

2013 – Darwin Atapuma

This is definitely a day for the punchy climbers.

2 climbs appear throughout the day: Bukovina and Bukowina.

buko1The wall of Bukovina is a monster. The middle section of 13.5% with a maximum of 22%, brings the riders to an almost standstill in the Polish countryside.

buko2

The climb to Bukowina ends the race and is on a long, straight road. This is the easier of the two climbs, but still very hard.

In 2013, we had attacks from everyone. It was a very difficult race to control and having a strong team is important. There are a number of riders who know this circuit well, having competed in previous editions of the race. Here is how they’ve gotten on, in this stage, in the last three years:-

2011 – Poels 2nd, Niemiec 4th, G. Caruso 9th, Riblon 10th, Cummings 12th, Ion Izagirre 19th, Majka 25th.

2012 – Niemiec 5th, Ion Izagirre 9th, Capecchi 15th, Geniez 16th.

2013 – Riblon 2nd, Majka 5th, Weening 6th, Ion Izagirre 7th, Nerz 13th, Capecchi 15th.

Ion Izagirre is a frequent visitor to the Tour of Poland and always achieves good results. His last 3 results in the GC have been 17th, 7th and 2nd. He knows this circuit very well and has improved every year. He has a great chance of making the podium.

Backing him up is Eros Capecchi, who’s finished 15th in the last two years. Having a good teammate will be crucial for Izagirre. Throw Intxausti and Amador into the mix and Movistar have a very strong hand.

Polish rider Niemiec is another with great form in this stage. He’s not the best time trailer, so needs to make a big impression in this stage. He has a strong chance of finishing on the podium.

The better TT riders will be hoping to hang on to the small peloton and not lose time, or only lose a handful of seconds. This can easily be claimed back in the 25km TT on stage 7.

Rafal Majka is still in that rich vein of form. He surprised me with a good win today and he also knows this stage well. He needs to gain some more time on the Movistar riders, as they can TT better than him.

Other major players will be Hesjedal, Poels, Caruso, Riblon, Gesink, Weening and Arredondo.

The climb today, wasn’t hard enough for Arredondo to shine. These climbs are more to his liking, especially the 22% ramp. Picking the right move to follow will also be important as there is every chance of a solo rider winning.  The little Colombian has an excellent chance of winning the stage.

Team tactics are going to be important and Majka needs as many teammates as possible to stay with him until the end. I don’t think this will happen. Once isolated, watch Movistar launch attack, after attack. They have 3 riders in the top 10 and all can time trial well. They have to be aggressive to try and win the stage and take control of the GC, but which one of their riders will benefit: Intxausti, Izagirre or Amador?

The situation reminds me of the Tour of Beijing 2013. Going into the crucial mountain stage they had Rui Costa, Visconti and Intxausti all close on GC. Attacks were launched and when all were looking at Rui Costa, it was Intxausti that took the stage and GC win. Will it happen again?

Prediction time…

If the break makes it, Arredondo wins. If not, Movistar will animate the race for Izagirre, but Niemiec and Majka won’t be far behind!

David Hunter

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