The 23-year-old Brit fought bravely on stage 6, which saw over twenty riders call it a day.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step were on the attack as soon as the flag was waved at the penultimate stage of the Tour de Pologne, sending Rémi Cavagna in a break that stayed away for ten kilometers before being caught by a peloton which got split on the hilly terrain between Zakopane and Koscielisko.
Sensing an opportunity, Petr Vakoč – fourth on the previous stage – attacked and forced a move together with seven other riders, at one point becoming virtual leader of the general classification. On the circuit, it was attacks galore from the bunch, which left just 30 riders in pursuit of the ones in the front, who were reeled in with 25 kilometers remaining.
With the cooperation going up in smokes, a handful of men went clear and threatened to fight for the stage victory, before the peloton eventually reacted and cut the gap to a few seconds, which immediately prompted new attacks. James Knox was part of the strong second group that chased three riders who managed to open a gap on the penultimate climb, and even though he began to suffer and even get dropped at one point, the young Cumbrian fought valiantly, throwing in every ounce of energy he still had, and rejoined the chasers just as they were preparing to crest the final ascent.
The winner emerged from the leading trio, but the group behind didn’t concede that much time, concluding this frantic and exhausting stage ten seconds adrift. Knox, who is racing his sixth World Tour event of the season – and his first since the Giro d’Italia, where a knee injury stopped him from continuing his maiden Grand Tour – was rewarded for his superb effort and never-say-die attitude, jumping up to tenth overall ahead of the last day.
“It was really, really difficult out there. We rode full gas from the start, and we had Rémi in the break, then Petr, who was amazing with the way he covered moves. Then, with two laps remaining, I got distanced but pushed hard on the tough circuit and bridged across. On the final lap, my legs were absolutely cooked, but luckily, I stayed in the second group and I can say that I’m pretty happy with how things went. We’ll see now what tomorrow brings”, said James ahead of the demanding stage to Bukowina Tatrzanska.
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