It was not a lucky opening of Tour of Croatia for the CCC Sprandi Polkowice. On the first stage of racing, the team’s main sprinter Simone Ponzi crashed and had to abandon. In his absence, Maciej Paterski was the squad’s top fnisher.
Tour of Croatia kicked off with a flat, but very long, 235-kilometer stage, with additional 10 kilometers before the official start. The distance was not an issue for 4 escapees – Alexey Kurbatov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Matej Drinovec (Adria Mobil), Guillaume Boivin and Guy Sagiv (both Cycling Academy) – who broke clear early. The peloton didn’t rush with starting the chase and let the breakaway gain 11-minute lead.
With around 80km to go a crash occurred in the bunch, in which Simone Ponzi was involved. He hit the ground hard and hurt his left collarbone. He was taken to the hospital for an X-ray and some extra tests. His injury is very unfortunate for the “orange squad” since he is one of the fastest men in the field and there are few flat stages on the program, which are expected to end with a bunch sprint.
The sprnters’ teams increased the pace on time and caught three of the attackers with 16km remaining. Only aggressive Boivin left in the front, but eventually he was reeled back in too, 3km from the finish.
The race was decided in bunch gallop. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) was in the best position taking the final corner and outsprinted Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems Cycling Team).
Maciej Paterski was the first “rider in orange” to cross the line, in 16th place.