Tour of Croatia: Tratnik in top 3 in stage 4, Owsian in the break

CCC Sprandi Polkowice put on an aggressive performance on stage 4 of Tour of Croatia, with Łukasz Owsian fighting in the breakaway and Jan Tratnik sprinting into top 3.

Info: Stage 4, April 20th, Starigrad – Crikvenica, 171km

Course: undulating, tricky finish

After the mountain stage, which saw most of the riders lose huge amount of time, it was obvious that majority of them will try to get into the breakaway the next day. It was exactly the case, as it took nearly 1,5h to form the day’s main escape. CCC Sprandi Polkowice’s Łukasz Owsian was one of the riders who managed to go clear, alongside 7 other attackers.

At one point they could enjoy a 6-minute lead, but then sprinters’ teams decided to switch on the chase mode.

On the finishing circuit around Crikvenica the breakaway split. Alessendro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF) pulled away from that group and Owsian was leading the chase. Polish rider was one of the last lasting survivors, but eventually had to give up with 10km to go.

Tonelli managed to hold on until the finish though to take a solo win. The finale was very tricky and twisty, with few sharp bends in the final 1km. In one of them a crash happened at the head of the pack. Thankfully Jan Tratnik was in the right place, at the right time, was able to avoid that accident and sprint to solid third place. Also Adrian Kurek was right there in the front, coming in in 8th place.

The plan was to put one of our riders into the break. It was not an easy task, since other teams had exactly the same strategy. That being said, first hour of racing saw multiple attempts and I was among those who tried to pull away. Finally Łukasz went clear, so we didn’t have to worry about chasing and we could leave it to other teams to do the work – Jan Tratnik explained

Early attacks cost me a lot of energy, so I was not feeling that great. I still believed that I would be able to stay in the main pack after all those late hills though. All that effort took its toll on me and in the very end I didn’t know if I’ll be able to contest the sprint. Fortunately luck was on my side on that day, since I was able to get around the crash in the final kilometer and finish the stage strong in 3rd place.

My girlfriend, brother and friends were at the finish, which gave my an extra motivation. Every time they watch me race I feel that boost, since I want to give them a reason to celebrate. They were there when I claimed most of my best results this season, so they bring me good luck.