A confusing and technical final kilometer saw our Italian neo-pro emerge victorious on stage 1.
We're midway through the season and Davide Martinelli can already run for the best neo-pro rider of 2016 award. After joining the team in the winter, the rider who hails from Brescia needed just eight days to notch up his maiden victory of the year, which came at the inaugural edition of Tour La Provence. After that success, he combined team duty with strong individual results, such as the top 10 finishes he got in the general classification of Ster ZLM Toer and in the individual time trial race at the National Championships.
After his home race, Davide took a break and began building for the second half of the season, which he kicked off at the Tour de Pologne, on Tuesday, with a flat stage between Radzymin and Warsaw, over a distance of just 138 kilometers. On paper, the parcours was flat, but still had several traps for the riders inside the last kilometers, when an uphill drag, a cobbled section and a few technical corners were poised to make the fight for the win more exciting and difficult.
Six men left in a breakaway at the start of the day, but with the route being a rather short one, they weren't allowed to take more than three minutes on the pack, which was controlled by Etixx – Quick-Step (with the help of a very strong Lukasz Wisniowski), Katusha and Orica-GreenEdge. With 20 kilometers to go, they were reeled in and that was the cue for Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) to try his luck, but the attack he put in was to no avail, because the bunch quickly took back the 20 seconds that were separating them.
Just as the riders were entering the final kilometer, Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) tried to forge a gap, but was immediately countered by Tirreno-Adriatico stage winner Zdenek Stybar. The peloton soon split and in the chaos created, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) tried to take advantage of the situation and accelerated, but Davide Martinelli came on the Belgian's tail, passed right by him and continued all the way to the line, scoring his first World Tour victory of the season. Etixx – Quick-Step's perfect day was rounded out by the strong placings of Fernando Gaviria and Stybar, who finished second, respectively fourth, their results taking the squad to the top of the teams standings.
"In the last kilometer, just before the cobbled part, I took the corner full gas and saw Stybar pass me, as he was closing an attack of Kwiatkowski. Then I followed Gilbert, who made a move, and seized the moment. I looked over my shoulder twice, noticed that I have a gap and realized I can win. It's a dream to take my maiden World Tour victory and I'm very happy. It's a special day which I'll always remember", said 23-year-old Davide Martinelli – the first leader of the Tour de Pologne – who nabbed Etixx – Quick-Step's 35th victory of the season.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele