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"There were a lot of crashes; almost all of our riders were involved, but fortunately without serious consequences as far as getting hurt. But because of the crash with 6 km to go, Sergei Chernetckii lost time in the classification."

ANTON VOROBYEV

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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MARCO HALLER

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TOUR DE POLOGNE

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03.08.2014 @ 23:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Like most other teams, Katusha got the Tour de Pologne off to a dramatic start as almost all of its riders crashed in the opening stage. While GC leader Sergei Chernetskii lost time, sprinter Marco Haller was one of the few to escape the carnage and he ended the day in fifth.

 

The opening stage of the Tour of Poland was a long one at 226 km, but six hours in the saddle was not the only issue the riders had to contend with on the route from Gdansk to Bydgoszcz. A  powerful, albeit short, storm blew in to create chaos and slippery roads for the final, causing countless crashes in the peloton.

 

"The profile of the stage was quite plain, so our main purpose was to go through the day calmly and to bring our sprinter Marco Haller to the finish without any problems," said Team Katusha sports director Gennady Mikhaylov. "But then because of the really bad weather in the finale, the stage became very tricky.

 

"There were a lot of crashes; almost all of our riders were involved, but fortunately without serious consequences as far as getting hurt. But because of the crash with 6 km to go, Sergei Chernetckii lost time in the classification.

 

"In the beginning of the race Anton was able to go in the breakaway. The break had a good advantage as well as good chances today, but the weather and the crash within the break changed the situation drastically. The sprint was dangerous but Marco showed a good result. Tomorrow we will try to improve it."

 

With many riders going down in various locations on the way to the finish line, a large group finally came back together for a mass sprint. Team Katusha’s Marco Haller put up a big effort, taking fifth on the stage behind winner Yauheni Hutarovich of AG2R. Second and third went to Roman Maikin (RusVelo) and Manuele Mori of Lampre.

 

"It was a very long stage and at the beginning it was very hot," Haller said. "I didn’t feel bad but I wasn’t sure of my real condition. I haven’t raced since Tour of Austria last month and this very first stage was a good opportunity to test myself.

 

"The last past of the stage was very dangerous because of the storm. I was very lucky to not crash. The sprint was not bad at all, but I probably should have started a little closer to the front since I got a little boxed in. For the first stage and for a WorldTour race I am satisfied with my result. Tomorrow will be a new day and I’m looking forward to trying again."

 

The break of the day included Anton Vorobyev and four other riders under sunny skies and warm temperatures. The group cooperated well together and gained more than ten minutes advantage, but the teams of the sprinters gradually reeled them back. The sudden storm that came through further cut into their effort, with the sprinters finally taking charge in the closing kilometers.

 

"I wanted to go in the break today and I managed to do it," Vorobyev said. "In general I felt quite good, but I haven’t ridden such a long distance in a long time.

 

"At 50 km to go the weather started to change – rain, hail, wind and the temperature plunged down all within a few minutes. It had a great impact on all of us in the break, plus we all went down in a slippery corner on the circuits. I think without this drastic change in the weather I would have had a good result today, but the race has just started so there will be more chances."

 

Racing in the Tour of Poland continues on Monday with stage two from Torun to Warszawa. It’s another long one at 226 km.

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