Third day for the sprinters wasn't an easy one, but the 21-year-old neo-pro overcame all obstacles.
Longest stage of the 73rd Tour de Pologne (Zawiercie – Nowy Sacz, 240 kilometers) began with five men booking a place in the escape and building a 5:30 gap, which helped them make it over the hills and stay at the front together until the 25-km mark, when the bunch, which constantly made up ground, brought the quintet back. This sparked a move from Jordi Simon (Verva Active Jet), but the peloton came very fast from behind, so his move was neutralized too on the local circuit, where also Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani-CSF) tried his hand, only to be reabsorbed by Etixx – Quick-Step in the closing kilometers.
The sprint wasn't owned by a team, as it was difficult to control the pack on the large streets of Nowy Sacz, so it all became hectic in the final 500 meters. The victory went to the Italian Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo), who outkicked Moreno Hofland (Lotto-NL-Jumbo) and Luka Mezgec (Orica-GreenEdge). Already winner of a Tour de Pologne stage, Fernando Gaviria arrived at the finish line in the top 15, in the same time as the first three, and continues to hold on to his yellow jersey, a strong feat considering that earlier on the day he crashed in a massive pile-up, which took down more than 40 riders.
Gaviria – one of the most successful neo-pros of the season – has six seconds on Bonifazio and 8 on Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge), who is sitting in third place. On Friday, the Colombian will have another chance to get in the mix for the win, providing that stage 4 (Nowy Sacz – Rzeszow, 218 kilometers), which counts five second-category climbs, will end up in another bunch sprint.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele