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Having followed an attack from Kwiatkowski, Stybar and Gilbert, Martinelli soloed to victory in the first stage of the Tour de Pologne; Gaviria beat Ewan in the sprint for second and Martinelli is the first leader

Photo: Etixx-QuickStep / Tim De Waele








12.07.2016 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Davide Martinelli (Etixx-QuickStep) delivered a major surprise in the first stage of the Tour de Pologne when his attack in the finale allowed him to narrowly keep the field at bay in Warsaw. His teammate Fernando Gaviria beat Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) in the sprint for second to make it a 1-2 for Etixx-QuickStep and Martinelli is of course the first leader.


Davide Martinelli has had a mostly quiet first year in the professional peloton. The time trial specialist has mostly been working as part of the Etixx-QuickStep sprint train and has been a key lead-out man for Fernando Gaviria.


That role allowed him to pick up a first pro win in February when a late crash in a bunch sprint and a generous Gaviria allowed him to win a stage in Tour La Provence. Back then, Martinelli and Gaviria made it a 1-2 for Etixx-QuickStep and today they repeated that performance, albeit on a much bigger scene.


The first stage of the WorldTour race Tour de Pologne was expected to end in a big bunch sprint and Gaviria was the big favourite to take the win. However, Martinelli surprised everybody by attacking in the finale and he narrowly held off the peloton before Gaviria beat Caleb Ewan in the sprint for second.


The 73rd Tour de Pologne kicked off with a short 135km stage from Radzymin to Warsaw. After a flat openings section, the main part of the stage consisted of seven laps of a 13.8km circuit in the city centre. It had two small climbs in the second half, most notably a technical cobbled ascent less than two kilometres from the finish, but most expected that it would be a day for the sprinters.


It was cloudy when the riders gathered for the start but that didn’t dampen the attacking spirit. After a few early attacks, a six-rider group was formed and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Marc Fournier (FDJ), Jonas Koch (Verva), Jaroslaw Marycz (CCC), Peter Williams (ONE) and Szmyon Rekita (Poland) quickly got an advantage of 1.45.


The peloton took it easy and slowly allowed the gap to go out to a maximum of 3.40 before they started to chase. They quickly reduced the gap to 2.35 and kept it stable there while they tackled the first lap of the circuit. Several sprint teams had taken responsibility for the chase as Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep), Benat Intxausti (Sky), Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) and Svein Tuft (Orica-BikeExchange) were sharing the pace-setting, working for Gaviria, Elia Viviani, Jasper De Buyst and Ewan respectively.


With 75km, Lampre-Merida also started to chase with Simone Petilli, meaning that five teams were now working well together. At the end of the third lap, they had brought the gap down to just 1.53 and this prompted most of the teams to take a break.


Wisniowski led the peloton across the line and then Sky briefly hit the front with local riders Michal Golas and Michal Kwiatkowski. Tuft and Wisniowski again came to the fore and they set the pace for most of the lap. When the Canadian led the group across the line for the next time, the gap was only 57 seconds.


Wisnowski briefly took a break and instead Tuft was joined by a Trek rider and Valerio Agnoli (Astana). However, the work was soon left to Tuft and Wisniowski.


With 47km to go, the escapees contested the KOM sprint and it became a battle between William and Marycz. The Brit launched a long sprint but he was unable to hold off the fast-finishing Pole who picked up the only point.  The fight was costly for Rekita who was left behind and caught by the peloton


At the next passage of the line, Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida) and Intxausti were back on the front to share the work with Tuft and Wisniowski but the gap had still gone out to 1.04. While they worked together, the front group contested the intermediate sprint and it was Marycz who launched a long sprint. However, Fournier managed to pass him just before the line. Koch rolled across the line in third.


Marco Coledan (Trek) took over from Intxausti in the peloton and took some huge turns to bring the gap down to 20 seconds as they approached the finish line for the next time. That was the signal for De Marchi to up the pace and the Italian rode away from the peloton, starting the penultimate as the lone leader. The peloton followed just 28 seconds later, led by Tuft, Petilli and Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep).


De Marchi dug deep to try to maintain his advantage but Petilli, Tuft and Serry worked well together. With 22km to go, they brought the chasers back and when they hit first climb, the Italian was almost caught. That allowed Lukasz Bodnar (Verva) to bridge across.


Bodnar and De Marchi worked well together but with a little less than 20km to go, they were brought back. A big fight for position ensued as they approached the technical final part of the circuit and it was Astana that upped the pace on the climb.


As they crested the summit of the final climb, Maciej Paterski (CCC) attacked to win the second and final KOM sprint and he crossed the line to start the final lap with an advantage of a few seconds. Astana led the group to the finish while everybody was fighting for position.


Lampre-Merida hit the front and then FDJ came to the fore with Yoann Offredo. The Polish national team took control but the tough fight for position continued and no one could really stamp their authority before Katusha lined out three riders on the front, with Anton Vorobyev taking big turns.


As they hit the first climb, Giant-Alpein sprinted up next to the Katusha riders and the German team hit the front as they crested the summit. Astana briefly took over and then Manuele Mori took a turn for Lampre-Merida.


Giant-Alpecin again hit the front with 3km to go and Bert De Backer took a huge turn for the German team. He didn’t respond when Julien Berard (Ag2r) launched a strong attack but as he continued to ride on the front, the Frenchman was quickly brought back.


With 2km to go, Bardiani took control to set up the in-form Nicola Ruffoni but they were surprised when they hit the final climb. Michawl Kwiatkowski (Sky) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep) attacked and Philippe Gilbert 8BMC) and Davide Martinelli (Etixx-QuickStep) bridged across on the descent.


Martinelli made an immediate attack and he got a small gap while the rest of the group was brought back, with Kevin Reza leading the chase for FDJ. As Martinelli still had a small gap, Caleb Ewan was forced to launch a long sprint but it was too late. Martinelli soloed across the line and his teammate Fernando Gaviria came around Ewan to make it a 1-2 for Etixx-QuickStep.


Martinelli now leads the race with a four-second advantage over Gaviria. However, there is a big chance that he will lose the jersey to one of the sprinters in Wednesday’s flat second stage. After a flat start, the stage ends with five laps of a 14.7km circuit in Katowice. It has two small climbs but history shows that the stage is usually decided in a very fast downhill sprint.



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