Tour of Poland: Taylor Phinney takes stage four with late solo attack
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tour of Poland: Taylor Phinney takes stage four with late solo attack

by Ben Atkins at 11:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Poland
American escapes in last six kilometres; Rafal Majka still in yellow

taylor phinneyTaylor Phinney (BMC Racing) took his first individual victory of the 2013 season - and his first road race victory as a professional - as he broke away from the peloton in the final six kilometres of the fourth stage of the Tour of Poland, between Tarnów and Katowice and managed to hold off the chase all the way to the line. Having led out teammate Thor Hushovd to victory in the previous stage, Phinney took his chance to take BMC Racing’s second win in as many days on the hilly finishing circuit.

Steele Von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) took the bunch sprint for second place, just behind Phinney, taking one step up from his third place on stage three, just ahead of Yauheni Hutarovich (AG2R La Mondiale) in third.

"With six-man teams here, I thought it would be harder to bring guys back, but nobody came with me," Phinney said. "So I just put my head down and decided I wasn't going to look back and slowly commit to it and give it everything I had. It was twisty and turning enough that I could maintain a lot of speed.

“I had a lot of power, but the last couple of kilometres were excruciatingly painful. I crossed my fingers that it wouldn't be one of those finishes where the guy gets passed 20 meters before the line.

"This is how I always dreamed of winning – foiling the sprinter's plans at the end of the race," he added. "It was sort of a Fabian Cancellara-style, Milan-San Remo victory scenario. It's really amazing to have it happen and it was a great feeling to finally put my hands up."

The 231.5km saw an eight-man breakaway from Dirk Bellemakers (Lotto-Belisol), Fabio Duarte (Colombia), Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Matthieu Ladagnous (, Cesare Benedetti (NetApp-Endura), Jacek Morajko (CCC Polsat-Polkowice), and Kamil Gradek and Pawel Franczak (Polish Selection). The group escaped as soon as the flag had been dropped at the end of the neutralised zone, and was able to get more than four minutes clear in the first 50km.

Despite none of the group being of any danger at all in the general classification, its lead was to grow no bigger, and was down to just 1’25” as it began the first of the four 12.3km finishing circuits.

With two laps to go, and with the break’s lead down to less than a minute, Gradek attacked and tried to stay clear alone. The Polish rider had a lead of 45 seconds in the middle of the penultimate circuit, as the other seven riders were pulled back by the peloton, but he had little of this left by the time he took the bell and was caught shortly afterwards.

Almost as soon as Gradek was caught, Phinney made his own move and managed to build what was to be a decisive lead. With a kilometre and a half to go the former US time trial champion had a 15 second advantage and, although this was rapidly closed by the speeding peloton, he just managed to hold off the sprinters at the finish line.

Race leader Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) finished safely in the peloton behind Phinney, and held on to his yellow jersey for another day, with the top of the general classification unchanged.

Eight riders aren’t allowed to go far as the sprinters prepare for the traditional Katowice sprint

Bellemakers, Duarte, Minguez, Ladagnous, Benedetti, Morajko, Gradek and Franczak escaped in the very first kilometre and were 4’40” ahead of the peloton by the time Morajko led over the first intermediate sprint in Szczurowa after 26.7km. With the three previous occasions that a stage had finished in Katowice, however, this was as far as the octet was allowed to get. By the time Gradek led over the second sprint, in Olkusz after 117.7km, its lead was down to 2’40”.

The gap was to drop to 1’35” with 100km to go, but then rose again to almost three minutes. As Morajko led across the third sprint, in Siemianowice Śląskie with 60.3km to go, however, it was back down to 2’15’ and would continue to fall.

The first time across the finish line, with 49.2km to go, the break was just 1’25” ahead, but this was allowed to stabilise as the sprinters’ teams avoided blunting their fastmen’s legs on the rolling circuit.

With two laps to go the gap was down to just 50 seconds, and Gradek attacked. The resulting chase saw Benedetti drop back to the peloton, but the rest of the group was steadily swallowed up not long afterwards.

Gradek himself had just eight seconds over the peloton as he took the bell, and was swallowed up in the first kilometres of the final lap.

Valerio Agnoli (Astana) was the first rider to counterattack, with just over eight kilometres to go, but the Italian was unable to get far ahead of the peloton. As he was caught, however, Phinney put in a devastating attack and managed to hold off the pack all way to the finish.

Result stage 4
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
2. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
3. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) AG2R La Mondiale
4. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Reinhardt Janse van Rensberg (RSA) Argos-Shimano
6. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
7. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano
8. Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat-Polkovice
9. Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
10. Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp-Endura

Standings after stage 4
1. Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
2. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky @ 4s
3. Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 6s
4. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 7s
5. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 9s
6. Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale @ 13s
8. Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard @ 16s
10. Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack-Leopard @ 18s



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