Tour of Croatia: De la Parte climbs onto the podium on the “queen stage”

Victor de la Parte finished the “queen stage” of Tour of Croatia in 3rd place. Felix Grossschartner also put in solid performance, by taking 7th. Both of them are now sitting in  the top “5” of the general classifcation. 

It was very hard stage, but the team did a great job right from the start. I knew that the final ascent suited me, since it was long and steep. I attacked few times and maybe I did it too soon. It was my first time on that climb and I didn’t know it very well. In the end, when Zoidl took off I tried to follow him, but he was just too strong – Victor de la Parte said afterwards.

Before the start we decided that Felix will be the team’s leader for that stage, since he was ranked higher than me in the GC, but during the climb we talked and since I felt very well, we agreed to change the strategy. Eventually we both finished in the top 10 and now we are sitting in 4th and 5th in the GC.

Tomorrow is very important day. I believe that we have very strong team for the TTT and we are capable of finishing the race on the podium in the overall standings.

It’s a very nice feeling to finally deliver a good result for the team. I felt strong early in the season, but during Ruta del Sol I got sick and couldn’t really take advantage of my good shape. Now I’m back in form and want to keep improving to be ready for Tour de Suisse and Tour of Poland.

It was the shortest, but at the same time the hardest stage of Tour of Croatia. It was only 122 kilometers long, but included lots of climbing throughout the entire distance. 22-kilometer ascent to Ucka wrapped up the day in the saddle.

The main break of the day involved 8 riders: Artem Ovechkin (Gazprom-RusVelo), Scott Davies (Team Wiggins), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani – CSF),  Daniel Turek (Cycling Academy Team), Brecht Dhaene (Verandas Willems Cycling Team), Enger Sondre Holst (IAM Cycling), Javier Megias (Team Novo Nordisk) and Domen Novak (Adria Mobil).

For some time Adrian Honkisz was trying to bridge across with 3 other runners, but eventually he sat up and returned to the bunch. With 50 kilometers to go, the gap was at 2 minutes, and when the leaders were at the bottom of the final climb they had only 30 seconds over the peloton.

CCC Sprandi Polkowice kicked off the ascent at the head of the pack. Strong pace set by “riders in orange” whittled down the field and last year’s race winner, Maciej Paterski did most of the work in the first part of the climb and was the one, who led the chase when the breakaway got caught (18km from the top).

After Paterski’s selection, the leading group included 25 riders. Among them there were two CCC Sprandi Polkowice representatives – Victor de la Parte and Felix Grossschartner. They both looked comfortable and both tried to shake things up with an accelerations.

With 3 kilometers to go the decisive attack was launched. Riccardo Zoidl (Trek – Segafredo) pulled away and only De la Parte, alongside Matija Kvasina (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) were able to respond. Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff) and Radoslaw Rogina (Adria Mobil) were trying to bridge the gap and eventually the former managed to join the trio.

He didn’t stay with the leaders too long though, since Zoidl put the hammer down with 1km remaining. CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider tried to follow but he’s  legs were not strong enough after such a hard stage to compete against the Austrian.

Zoidl reached the summit in first place 28 seconds ahead of Kvasina, new leader of GC and De la Parte, who claimed first podium for the “orange squad” in the UCI race, in 2016 season. Also Grossschartner put in a solid climbing performance, by taking 7th place.

Two “orange duo” is now 4th and 5th in the overall standings respectively (53 and 56 seconds behind). Tomorrow’s team time trial will be crucial for the Polkowice-based squad, in terms of climbing onto the final podium. CCC Sprandi Polkowice will have to make up 27 seconds on Adria Mobil to secure top 3.