Adrian Kurek retained his lead in most active rider classification, while Maciej Paterski took over the KOM jersey on stage 3 of Tour de Pologne.
Info: 31st of July, Jaworzno – Szczyrk, 161km
Course: mountainous (four cat. 1 climbs – two to Salmopol, two to Zameczek, punchy uphill finish)
How it unfolded
With hard, hilly terrain, stage 3 was going to determine who has the legs to go for the overall. There were also 40 points for KOM classification waiting on the course, so to get into the break was not an easy task. Maciej Paterski was able to join the escape, which on that day consisted of 7 quality riders. Aside from CCC Sprandi Polkowice escapee, also Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal), Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ), Remi Cavagna (Quick-Step Floors), Adam Stachowiak (Poland), Bert-Jan Lindeman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Jose Gonçalves (Team Katusha – Alpecin) made the move.
The leading 7-man group was not let go easily, as peloton kept the gap under 4 minutes. Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Sky started reducing the differential when the road kicked up, with 82km into the stage.
Maciej Paterski fulfilled his goal for the stage, taking the lead in mountains classification. He won first cat. 1 climb to Salmopol, besting Monfort at the top, and took 2nd at another KOM, at Zameczek.
Paterski couldn’t go for points at third KOM, as his group was reeled back in on ascent. At that point peloton was shattered to around 50-60 men, with all the race favorites. Jan Hirt and Michael Schlegel were representing “orange squad” in the front.
The closer it was to the finish in Szczyrk the small the main group was. Schlegel was unable to survive the selection and a group of 24 riders approached the bottom of the final uphill towards the line. Hirt couldn’t respond to strong acceleration by his opponents and finished 23rd, 50 seconds behind.
The rider who timed his attack perfectly was Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) who powered to victory. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) waited to kick until the last moment, almost catching Belgian. Slovak world champion claimed 2nd and had his teammate, Rafał Majka on his wheel. Polish Olympic medalist and former winner of Tour de Pologne took 3rd place.
The opening of the stage was filled with breakaway attempts, but I was able to go clear – Maciej Paterski explained. – We had headwind all the way until the climbs, so it was good to have 6 companions in the front. That made the job a little bit easier. I gave it all at KOMs. I won first one and was 2nd on another. Mistake cost me few points up there, since I had a small gap and I eased up just before the top. Reichenbach took full advantage of that and came around me just before the line.
I was hoping we could stay up front a little bit longer and try to go for the win at third KOM, but the peloton had other plans. When I got caught there was no point of trying to stay with the group. I just kept my own pace, since the goal for the day was fulfilled and I needed to think about next stages.
Now there are two mostly flat stages ahead of us, with not too many opportunities to add some points to the KOM classification. I will try to save as much energy there, to be ready for the last two, decisive stages.