Tour de Pologne Stage 6: Two OPQS in Top 10 on Steep Bukowina Tatrzańska Finale
OPQS fought until the very last climb of 190km Stage 6, to try and keep Petr Vakoc in yellow after he took over the GC lead with a surprise Stage 2 solo victory at Tour de Pologne a few days ago.
Vakoc was guided by Gianluca Brambilla back to a chase group that caught eight riders ahead, including OPQS teammate Wout Poels and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Daxo), going into the summit finish of the 6th Stage. However, with 3.5km to go, Vakoc was unable to hold on to the group and Majka — just a second down in the overall classification — soon attacked the group to go on and win the stage solo.
Majka is now in the race lead by 18" over Movistar teammates Benat Intxausti and Jon Izaguirre, who also finished 2nd and 3rd in Stage 6.
Poels and Brambilla kept fighting, and Poels finished 6th while Brambilla crossed the line in 10th. After a long day of giving it his all, Vakoc finished 15th (+48").
OPQS goes into the final, 25km ITT with Brambilla in 9th overall (+46"), Vakoc 11th (+57"), and Poels 12th (+1'06").
"Today I had a really good feeling," Poels said. "I was always there even when they sped up. On the last lap I went to the front, even in the steep parts I felt OK. But then I was caught up a bit in the elastic band effect. I adjusted and came back to the front on the final climb. I think that worked because Petr and Gianluca had lost contact. So I thought maybe to go for the victory, but Majka attacked and was really strong. But I was still 6th, which is not bad considering. Tomorrow I go into the last stage 12th, but I have to be satisfied with it knowing I crashed in the first stage and lost 26 seconds. So, I hope tomorrow I can do well in the TT like I did in the Giro, and maybe move up to the top 10. I trained after Tour de Wallonie specifically for the time trial, so hopefully it will pay off."
"It was a really hard stage," Vakoc said. "I was trying hard to stay in the front all day. The team did a perfect job for me. I stayed in front until the second-to-last climb where I was in the second group. It came back together just before the last climb, but I just didn't have the legs to follow and finished on my own less than 50 seconds back. Considering what I expected from this race before it started, I have to say it's been really perfect. I think I had a good performance today in Yellow. I am still young and learning how to maintain consistent through a stage race. I didn't lose that much time and stayed well placed in the GC. I am also a good time trialist, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I think I can try to target moving up in the classification. If I have legs like I did the second stage then it is very much possible. "