Michał Paluta won stage 2 of Carpathian Couriers Race and took over the GC lead. That was a second consecutive victory for CCC Sprandi Polkowice, after yesterday’s triumph for Alan Banaszek.
After two days spent in Hungary, where prologue and stage 1 were held, the race moved to Slovakia. The riders were facing a 132-kilometer hilly stage from Trencianske Teplice to Stara Bystrica. There were 4 KOMs to tackle and the last one was located just 7 kilometers from the finish.
First hour of racing saw many breakaway attempts but none of them stuck. At one point the bunch split on a climb and a 40-man leading group, with 3 CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders, emerged in the front. Soon, on the flat part, it all came back together again and with 52 kilometers to go it was everyone’s race.
Nobody was able to go clear in the finale, although the final climb reduced the bunch to 40 riders. From that field Michał Paluta was the fastest, beating the LKT Team Brandenburg duo, Leon Rohde and Max Kanter. That win helped Paluta move up to the overall lead.
We wanted to ride aggressively right from the start and get into bigger breakaways, which have some chances of going all the way. We didn’t want to be present in every move, because all the teams were looking at us. Alan Banaszek was one of the most active riders early on, but the pace was very high and nobody was able to go clear – Michał Paluta explained afterwards.
Final 7 kilometers were all downhill, after the last KOM. I tackled it with Patryk Stosz and Piotr Brożyna in a shattered bunch. Later they did a great job of helping me to find the right position for the sprint, with 1 kilometer remaining.
When it came down to the finish I decided to kick it off early, with 250 meters to go. It turned out to be a good decision, since I was able to hold on and take the win.
I like such sprints, from smaller groups. We wanted to get some bonus seconds at intermediate sprints too, but it was too crowded and too many riders were involved in the fight for those seconds. Every time when we arrived at the prime, the bunch was all together.
I am very satisfied with today’s performance – not only because I was able to claim the win, but also take the overall lead. There are two very demanding stages ahead of us, with over 20% climbs on the menu. It won’t be easy to defend the jersey, especially since we are racing in 5-man teams and it’s much harder to control the race with such a small squad. We will definitely do our best though and put on the fight.
My sensations are good and I feel strong on the climbs. Also my teammates are performing well and I believe we can deliver the overall lead all the way to the end.