It was Friday 13th, so maybe it came down to who had a little bit more of luck in the finale of stage 2 of Tour of Austria. Paweł Cieślik was very close to taking the win, but at the end of the day he had to settle with 2nd place.
Info: July 13th, Waidhofen – Sonntagberg, 129,3km
Course: hilly (3xcat. 2 at Sonntagberg – 3,6km, avg. 9,3%, max. 14%), 4 circuits, 30km each
That was another stage that escape specialists had underlined in their race book. As expected, it was full gas from kilometer zero.
After 6 days of racing Paweł Cieślik still had enough in his legs to jump across to the 5-man leading group that went clear early on. Pole launched his move on steep Sonntagberg climb, where finish line was situated and which in total was tackled five times during the stage.
Later on another 7 riders joined the breakaway, making it a 13-man leading group. Since stage was held on Friday 13th and team’s car had number 13 in the convoy, superstitious people wouldn’t give escapees much chances. Paweł Cieślik is not one of them though and was very eager to put up a fight.
On penultimate lap Cardona pulled away from the break, splitting it. Cieślik didn’t follow, but was pulling hard in the chasing group. Eventually they brought Colombian back in and then dropped him. CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider was pedaling in the front with Artem Nych, Antonio Nibali and Matej Mohirc. The latter put his descending skills in use and attacked in the last downhill.
He had 30s in hand at the bottom, but it was not enough to hold on. He got caught by Cieślik and Nibali at the foot of the decisive, uphill, 3,6km stretch towards the line. In the finale Cieślik was showing great power and strength, but fresher legs of Nibali, who earlier had his teammate in the front, turned out to be the biggest factor. CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider finished 2nd, but after an impressive display of form. He also climbed to 15th overall.
I knew that as soon as the climbs starts, Nibali will attack. He was not taking his turns in the last circuit, since he had his teammate in the front. I felt quite fresh and wanted to fight for the win. When Italian was accelerating I was trying to respond with my own move, but eventually he was victorious in that duel. I’m not fully satisfied with that result, since I was so close, but the strongest won today. I know I gave my best and I fought until the very end, because I believed I could win today – Paweł Cieślik explained afterwards.
The opening of the race didn’t go as planned, since I was aiming at general classification. With every stage I was feeling better and better though, both physically and mentally – he summed up.