Michał Paluta became the new U23 Polish Champion in road race. He was the strongest on the 180-kilometer course around Sobótka. For CCC Sprandi Polkowice it was a third medal in this year’s Nationals, after two podium spots in time trial.
Among all my Polish champion titles, this one is definitely the most valuable – Michał Paluta said afterwards. – It is said that cycling is a sport of pain. And today I suffered a lot. I had to challenge not only my rivals but also myself, especially in the first half of racing. I had cramps in the very end and after the race I had a stomachache because of the fatigue. I spent over 100 kilometers in the break after all.
I was trying to contribute to the pace in the escape, but at the same time I tried to save some energy in case I had to help my teammate, who is faster than my in the sprint, such as Eryk Latoń. He was riding not far back. We worked well together tough in the break and we managed to start the final lap with some gap.
On the last circuit I pulled away alongside Mateusz Grabis. When it was 5 kilometers left, an official told us that we have one minute lead. This is when I knew we have a very big chance of going all the way. On the hill in Sobótka, with 3 kilometers to go, Mateusz tried to make a move, but I followed him. I wanted to bring the race to a sprint, since I knew I was capable of outsprinting my competitor. I jumped off Grabis’s wheel with 150 meters to go and I managed to hold on until the line.
I want to thank my team, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, which really helped my a lot. Without my teammates and the staff my success wouldn’t be possible. I want to dedicate this triumph to my family. My parents supported my along the way and because of them I was able to develop as a cyclist.
There were many breakaway attempts right after the start, on the first lap. Michał Paluta and Patryk Stosz were very aggressive, but it was Kamil Małecki who managed to get in the first, four-man break. He was riding in the front alongside Patryk Szymański (TC Chrobry Głogów), Wojciech Wilgus (KK Tarnovia Tarnowo Podgórne) and Kamil Turek (KS Pogoń Mostostal Puławy).
Due to numerous counterattacks from the bunch, the escape was reeled back in. The series of attacks led to forming new breakaway with Patryk Soliński (KS Pogoń Mostostal Puławy), Michał Paluta (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Mateusz Grabis (TC Chrobry Saroni Głogów) and Szymon Rekita (LKK Warmia Biskupiec/ALTO PACK). Their maximum lead was at 1:30.
The peloton broke apart and few chasing groups were trying to bridge across. Among the chasers riding close to the leading riders, were Jakub Kaczmarek and Eryk Latoń.
With three laps to go, Soliński got dropped and later also Rekita was not able to keep up the pace. They were substituted in the front by two other cyclists, Konrad Kott (Warmińsko-Mazurski Klub Sportowy) and Mateusz Kazimierczak (KS Pogoń Mostostal Puławy).
On the final lap, Michał Paluta and Mateusz Grabis decided to launch an attack. They collaborated well and increased the gap to one minute. They held off the chasers and arrived at the finish together. In the sprinting duel Paluta was the fastest and claimed the victory. Grabis took silver medal and his teammate, Piotr Jaromin rounded out the podium.
For CCC Sprandi Polkowice it’s the third medal in this year’s Nationals. It’s also second medal for Paluta, who was third in the individual time trial. Patryk Stosz grabbed silver in that discipline.
Jakub Kaczmarek and Eryk Latoń finished in the Top 15, in 13th and 14th respectively. Other U23 “riders in orange”, Piotr Brożyna, Kamil Małecki and Patryk Stosz were outside the Top 30.