Last day of Bałtyk – Karkonosze Tour was dominated by CCC Sprandi Polkowice. Mateusz Taciak won the morning uphill time trial and Maciej Paterski was the fastest on the hilly stage to Karpacz. The former took home the overall victory, while the entire GC podium turned orange.
It’s hard to imagine Bałtyk – Karkonosze Tour without an uphill time trial to Przełęcz Okraj, since it’s been on the race’s menu for many years. Mateusz Taciak knew the climb as well as anybody and knew exactly how to pace himself to take the win. Previously, he had won that TT twice and was anxious to make it a triplet.
The route was flat in first two kilometers, and the rest of it was going all up. The average gradient was 5%, while in the hardest segments the percentage was reaching 13%.
Taciak set untouchable time of 25:30, smashing Cameron Bayly’s (Attaque Gusto) result by 1:26. Soon after Taciak checked in at the summit, Nikolay Mihaylov posted 26:34, which at the time gave him 2nd place. Eventually it was Maciej Paterski, who was the runner-up. He rolled off the start ramp as second to last, recorded 26:24 and “colored” the podium in orange.
After the stage CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders were occupying the top 3 in the general classification and Mateusz Taciak approached the final hilly stage in the yellow jersey. He was only 90 kilometers and 4 KOMs away from the overall victory.
Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (Metec-TKH), Lukas Steridten (UR Krositzer Giant) and Andrey Sazanov (GM Europa Ovini) broke clear early on and gained 1:30 advantage. CCC Sprandi Polkowice kept them on a “leash” to make sure they are within reach. With around 50km to go Kouwenhoven got dropped and was replaced in the front by Łukasz Bodnar (Verva ActiveJet) and Wojciech Franczak (De Rosa Rybnik).
Bodnar was the strongest in that group and left his fellow escapees behind. He entered the last 10 kilometers with 1-minute lead over the chasers. In the very finale the peloton picked up the pace drastically and after the relentless selection only around 20 riders managed to stay in the main group. They caught Bodnar right before the finish.
Maciej Paterski was the fastest man in what was left from the bunch and took the win. What made that victory even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t finish outside the top 6 in the entire race (including prologue).
Mateusz Taciak arrived with the strongest and held on to his overall lead. He added his second win in this race to his palmeras and was joined on the GC podium by his teammates, stage winner Paterski and Nikolay Mihaylov.
I’m not a typical climber, but the time trial to Przełęcz Okraj suits me – the harder it is the better for me – Mateusz Taciak said afterwards. – I’ve won here for the third time and obviously the fact, that I knew the climb worked to my advantage. I was confident about my form and I knew I can do well. I’ve been feeling strong throughout the entire race and also during the warm up, before the TT.
We were controlling the last, afternoon stage, although it wasn’t easy. The time trial took its toll on our legs and we still had to perform on the hilly course. My teammates did a great job though. Adrian Kurek, Marcin Mrożek and Kamil Małecki were pacing the bunch until the laps in Karpacz, where Nikolay Mihaylov and Leszek Pluciński took over the baton. In the end Maciej Paterski was in such a good position that there was no point of me helping him out. He did a perfect sprint and finished off the team’s work.
The afternoon stage was very hard and I started it a little bit languid. After the morning effort, cyclist’s body expected some rest, but there was another 100-kilometer race in demanding terrain, to take on – Maciej Paterski added. – Thanks to the teammates we managed to have things under control and catch the escape. I had this stage on my mind from the very beginning, since I knew that the profile and an uphill finish suited me. With 300m to go Jiri Polnicky attacked, I followed him and 150m later I jumped off his wheel.
I hope that this race is an indication that I am returning to my top shape. My season is marked by injuries or other health issues and it’s hard to break that streak. I skipped few races because of that and had to rebuild my form. I think I’m on the right track though and Bałtyk – Karkonosze was great for my morale.
Results of stage 5 – individual time trial – Kowary – Przełęcz Okraj, 11,6km
- Mateusz Taciak (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) – 25:30
- Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) – 0:54
- Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) – 1:04
7. Leszek Pluciński (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
17. Marcin Mrożek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
20. Adrian Kurek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
36. Kamil Małecki (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
Results of stage 6 – Piechowice – Karpacz, 89,3km
- Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
- Kamil Zieliński (Domin Sport)
- Davide Pacchiardo (GM Europa Ovini)
10. Mateusz Taciak (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
12. Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
13. Leszek Pluciński (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
36. Marcin Mrożek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
51. Adrian Kurek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
79. Kamil Małecki (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
Final general classification:
- Mateusz Taciak (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
- Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
- Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
6. Leszek Pluciński (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
19. Marcin Mrożek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
42. Adrian Kurek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)
80. Kamil Małecki (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)