Eventful day for Quick-Step Floors at Tour de Pologne
Maximilian Schachmann crashed out of the race, while Laurens De Plus dropped out of the top 20 due to stomach problems.
Shortest stage of the Tour de Pologne was also one of the most challenging, due to the undulating course, driving rain and slippery roads which led to several crashes and a fragmented peloton contesting the win in Rzeszow. Long before all these happened, Quick-Step Floors' Maximilian Schachmann booked a place in the escape, which featured a total of five riders, who opened a three-minute gap over the bunch.
Inside the last 25 kilometers, they still held a hefty gap, but heavy rain and strong winds reduced their chances of making it to the line; same harsh weather conditions took Max out of the race, after he crashed twice in the space of just a few kilometers on the soapy roads, an incident following which he went to the hospital where he had a CT scan, the images indicating fractures in his right foot.
Quick-Step Floors' neo-pro is now on his way to Hamburg, where a specialist will examine the injury and decide if Maximilian Schachmann – a top-10 finisher this season at Le Samyn, Ster ZLM Toer and both road race and ITT National Championships – will require surgery. An update on his situation will be provided as soon as possible.
The front group splintered over the final climb, and so did the peloton, who had to push hard until the closing kilometers in order to catch the remnants of the break. Soon after this happened, another crash occurred, on the narrow and sinuous roads of Rzeszow, disrupting the sprint and leaving only a couple of riders to sprint for the win, which Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) got ahead of Luka Mezgec (Orica-Scott).
Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels – Quick-Step Floors's best placed rider in the general classification – arrived safely at the finish and will start the penultimate day in 15th position, after improving three places on this treacherous stage of the Tour de Pologne.
"It was our plan from the morning to have one guy in the break, so when Max joined that strong group we were satisfied, because there was a solid chance of them making it. Things looked good until the last 20 kilometers, where the roads became very slippery due to the rain and Max crashed on a wet corner. He remounted and tried to rejoin the break, but he soon went down again and this time was forced to abandon", sport director Rik van Slycke explained.
Despite this testing day, Van Slycke is confident Bob can turn up the tables and leave the race with a good result: "Our other goal on this stage was to protect Bob, which we managed well. He arrived safely at the finish and will now look to the final two stages, which will be decisive for the general classification. It's a pity Laurens dropped from the top 20 due to stomach problems, as his presence there would have been important for the last days, but despite all these setbacks we'll keep fighting."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele