Grzegorz Stępniak sprinted to victory on day 1 of Tour of Estonia (2.1) and will wear the leader jersey on tomorrow’s, decisive stage.
Before the stage we’d decided that if it comes down to a bunch sprint finish I will be the team’s main sprinter. In the end I felt very good, so I told my teammates that we stick to the plan. They moved up front with 2,5km to go and set very strong pace to help me start the sprint from a perfect position. I am very grateful for that and if it wasn’t for them, the victory wouldn’t be possible – Grzegorz Stępniak explained afterwards. – Tomorrow we are going to fight for the overall win. I know that stage well, since I’ve done it two years ago. It’s held on a circuit, with one punchy climb. I feel strong and I believe that we can control the race and deliver the jersey all the way to the end.
The opening stage was 190 kilometers long and the profile was relatively flat. It suited the sprinters and the bunch sprint finish was the most probable scenario.
The pace was high from the very beginning. First two hours of racing saw multiple breakaway attempts and in many of them CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders were involved. None of the groups was able to go clear though, as the bunch was reacting to every move.
Finally, after 100 kilometers of racing a 4-man group managed to break away. It included Isac Lundgren (Team Bliz-Merida), Stanislau Bozhkou (Minsk Cycling Club), Armands Becis (Rietumu – Delfin) and Marius Andre Hafsas (Team Ringeriks – Kraft).
They established over a minute of advantage and the main field kept things under control. CCC Sprandi Polkowice sent few guys at the head of the pack to set the pace.
They work paid off as the escape got caught with 16km remaining. Soon after another attacks were launched, which resulted in establishing a 3-man leading group. Peeter Pung (Estonia), Kaspars Sergis (Alpha Baltic – Maratoni.lv), Marcu Faglum Karlsson (Sweden) tried their chances but were also reeled in, with 4km to go.
As expected, it came down to a bunch gallop. CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders made sure to help their sprinter, Grzegorz Stępniak, find a right position for the sprint. He finished off their efforts by taking the win and overall lead. He bested Mihkel Raim (Cycling Academy Team) and Ludwig Bengtsson (Szwecja). After few top 10 performances, that’s Stępniak’s first victory of 2016 season in UCI event.