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Beating pre-race favourite Kiryienka by 2 seconds, Bialoblocki took the biggest win of his career in the final time trial of the Tour de Pologne; Izagirre finished seventh and took the overall win

Photo: Sirotti

BART DE CLERCQ

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BEN HERMANS

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ION IZAGIRRE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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TOUR DE POLOGNE

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VASIL KIRYENKA

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08.08.2015 @ 20:12 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Riding for the Polish national team, Marcin Bialoblocki delivered a big surprise when he took a big WorldTour victory in the final time trial of the Tour de Pologne. The Polish national champion beat pre-stage favourite Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) by just 2 seconds while Rick Flens (LottoNL-Jumbo) was 59 seconds off the place in third. After a huge drama and two consecutive second places, Ion Izagirre (Movistar) finally took the overall victory with a 2-second advantage over Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal) and Ben Hermans (BMC) one second further adrift in third.

 

For several years, Marcin Bialoblocki has been one of the best riders on the British domestic scene but he has not been a household name in the professional cycling world. That is likely to change in the future after he created a major surprise by winning the final time trial of the Tour de Pologne.

 

Riding for a continental team, Bialoblocki only got a chance to ride his home race by being selected for the Polish national team and as the reigning national TT champion, the flat final 25km stage in Krakow was always going to be a major goal for him. He showed good condition when he was in the break on stage 3 and since then he has saved energy for one final big effort in the Polish heat.

 

Bialoblocki was an early starter as he has lost lots of time in the mountains. He stopped the clock in in 28.45 which was 59 seconds faster than Rick Flesn who had led the stage for 10 minutes after being the first rider to reach the finish.

 

However, most were expecting that pre-stage favourite Vasil Kiryienka would deny the Poles another home win. The Belarusian had been faster at every time check and looked like he was in a class of his own on the flat power course. However, the winner of the Giro time trial was unable to maintain his speed and when he reached the finish, the clock showed 28.47, meaning that he had missed out on the lead by just 2 seconds.

 

On this kind of course, the powerful riders were always going to decide the stage and so it was no surprise that none of the later starters were able to challenge Bialoblocki, Kiryienka and Flens who made up the top 3. However, that didn’t make the stage less exciting as the battle for the overall victory turned out to be extremely close.

 

Ion Izagirre had finished second in the race two years in a row and was in the perfect position to strike in the time trial. Among the GC contenders, he was the best time triallist and he just needed to make up 14 seconds race leader Sergio Henao (Sky).

 

That turned out to be an easy task as the Colombian was far off the pace and instead it was a Belgian duo that challenged the Basque. Bart De Clercq (Lotto Soudal) had a four-second advantage at the start of the race while Ben Hermans had been equal on time with Izagirre.

 

Already at the first time check, it was clear that it was going to be close as Izagirre had been just 10 seconds faster than Hermans. At the midpoint, it was even closer as Hermans had reduced his deficit by 3 seconds while De Clercq was just 2 seconds further back.

 

At the finish, Hermans had shaved another 4 seconds off but it was not enough as Izagirre beat him by 3 seconds. De Clercq lost 6 seconds to the Basque, meaning that Izagirre took the overall win with a 2-second advantage over De Clercq and a 3-second advantage over Hermans.

 

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) did a great time trial to finish 8th and so moved from 10th to 4th while Fabio Aru (Astana) did one of the best TTs of his life to move into fifth in the final overall standings. Henao dropped to 8th while Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) slipped from second to sixth.

 

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) won the points competition and Maciej Paterski (CCC) was the best climber. Kamil Gradek (Poland) won the sprints jersey while Lotto Soudal was the best team.

 

With the Tour de Pologne done and dusted, the WorldTour moves to Belgium and the Netherlands for the Eneco Tour which starts on Monday and runs for seven days.

 

A flat time trial

After yesterday’s queen stage, the Tour de Pologne was set to come to a spectacular and exciting conclusion in the final

 

It was a brutally hot day in Poland when Bert De Backer (Giant-Alpecin) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. However, it was Rick Flens (LottoNL-Jumbo) who was the first rider to reach the finish, stopping the clock in 29.44 to take an early. With a time of 33.01, Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEDGE) was unable to challenge the Dutchman.

 

Flens takes the lead

Marco Coledan (Trek) slotted into second with a time that was 37 seconds slower than Flens’ while Martijn Keizer (LottoNL) made it two riders from his Dutch team in the top three as he was just 6 seconds slower. Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) could only manage fourth. He was quickly relegated by Gedimanas Bagdonas (Ag2r) who went six seconds faster than the German.

 

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) had a good ride to slot into fifth before Patrick Gretsch (Gag2r) became the first rider to really threaten Flens. However, he missed out on the lead by 24 seconds.

 

Great ride by Bialoblocki

The local fans were cheering for Polish champion Marcin Bialoblocki (Poland) who delivered a great performance to take the lead with a time of 28.45, 59 seconds better than Flens. Jesse Sergent (Trek) was unable to threaten the Pole as his time was 1.34 off the pace and was only good enough four fourth.

 

Former U23 world champion Damien Howson (Orica-GreenEDGE) did well to move into third with a time that was just 10 seconds slowed than Flens’ but all eyes were on pre-race favourite Vasil Kiryienka (Sky). However, the Belarusian missed out on the lead by just 4 seconds.

 

Bodnar off the pace

Another big favourite for the stage was Maciej Bodnar (Tinkoff-Saxo) but the winner of stage 4 was unable to challenge his compatriot Bialoblocki as he was 1.26 off the pace to slot into 6th. Kamil Gradek (Poland) delivered a disappointing performance as he failed to make it into the top 10.

 

Nikolay Mihaylov (CCC) and Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) narrowly missed the top 10 in a relatively dull phase of the race where nobody was able to challenge the best times. Finally, another rider managed to make it into the top when Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep) moved into 8th with a time that was 1.34 off the pace.

 

Great ride by Van den Broeck

Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) both had disappointing rides to miss out on the top 10 before Salvatore Puccio (Sky) posted the 17th best time. Branislay Samoilau (CCC) was 12th and missed out on the top 10 by just 6 seconds. Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) was even closer but his time was only good enough for 11th.

 

Andrey Zeits (Astana) posted the 10th best time before Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto Soudal) confirmed his great progress in the discipline by slotting into fifth. Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) was just a few seconds slower as he made it into 7th before the attention turned to the GC battle.

 

Zakarin moves into 7th

Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM) and Davide Rebellin (CCC) both lost lots of time and missed out on the opportunity to move into the top 10. Instead, it was Zakarin who got the attention when he slotted into seventh with a time of 30.10.

 

Mikel Nieve (Sky) lost considerable time but managed to hold Reichenbach and Rebellin off to stay in the top 10 while Christophe Riblon (Ag2r) had a disappointing ride that would see him end the race in seventh overall. Moments later Fabio Aru powered across the line to stop the clock in 30.21, one of his best TTs ever.

 

Izagirre wins the race

All eyes were now on Izagirre who had already taken the provisional lead at the midpoint and he maintained his speed to slot into seventh with a time that was one second faster than Zakarin. He didn’t even get the chance to catch his breath before his position came under threat but Hermans ended up being 3 seconds slower in 11th.

 

As expected, Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) lost lots of time and dropped to 9th in the overall standings and instead it was De Clercq who posed a threat. The Belgian finished the stage in 12th to miss out on the overall win by 2 seconds. At this point, it was already clear that Ulissi and Henao were off the pace, meaning that Izagirre could celebrate the biggest win of his career.

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