Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions) came through a tricky final stage of the Tour of Poland complete with rainstorms, and a full-on final bunch sprint to take his and his team’s first ever overall win in a ProTour stage race.
The Irishman finished in the main pack, taking the race by eight seconds over Slovenian all-rounder Grega Bole (Lampre) and ten seconds on stage six winner Bauke Mollema of Rabobank.
It was a hard-earned triumph, forged after Martin was on the right side of a late split on stage four, then won stage five’s uphill finish and kept as tight a rein as possible on his rivals on the mountainous stage six.
Stage seven’s 163 kilometre final ride into Krakow was flat for the second half but it was by no means straightforward either.
Martin’s rivals were so close overall a split at the wrong time could have spelled curtains to his yellow jersey and just to add to the tension the rainsoaked roads made the finishing city centre circuit greasy and dangerous.
But with some strong team support, despite the difficult conditions the 23-year-old Garmin-Transitions rider came through it all to secure his biggest career win to date.
His victory was also Ireland’s first victory in the 82-year-old Tour of Poland – one of cycling’s longest-standing races.
A three-man breakaway took care of the bonus seconds on offer in two intermediate sprints, which made matters slightly easier for Martin given there was so little margin for error with such a tight overall classification.
Then after Garmin-Transitions had done a lot of the early work, HTC-Columbia and Sky whittled down the gap on the break until the last man standing, Angel Madrazo (Caisse D’Epargne) was caught with one four kilometre lap left to go.
The bunch had split apart, with many riders opting to sit up rather than risk crashing on the final circuit, but Martin was well protected by his team-mates, who claimed their own reward in the shape of the overall teams prize as well.
André Greipel (HTC-Columbia) came out of the bunch unusually late on to take his second stage win of the race, whilst Martin crossed the line soaked to the skin like the rest of the peloton but delighted he had managed to take what was an exceptionally hard-fought victory.
“We handled everything they threw at us,” Martin said afterwards, “there was the bad weather, lots of attacks yesterday and then two of my team-mates had punctures on the finishing circuit.”
“Murilo Fischer [Garmin-Transitions team-mate and sprinter] was brilliant at guiding me through the final kilometres, but the whole team did a really good job.”
“It’s a reflection of how strong we were that Garmin-Transitions got the teams classification as well, and I’m really pleased after all the hard work they did that it all worked out.”
“It was a very complicated win,” added Garmin-Transitions Bingen Fernandez, “but we managed to come through it all.”
“Dan had shown he was on the way up in the Brixia Tour [where he finished third] so we came here knowing he had a good chance of doing well.”
“He’s not won for a while and to come back with a victory as important as this always gives a rider great morale for the future. It’s a big step forward. ”
Tour of Poland 2010, stage seven
1. Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Francaise des Jeux
3. Robert Forster (Ger) Milram
4. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
5. Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team
7. Sebastien Hinault (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky
9. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana
10. David Vitoria (Swi) Footon-Servetto all same time
Final overall classification
1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Transitions in 30-38-48
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 8 secs
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank at 10 secs
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Columbia at 20 secs
5. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team at 21 secs
6. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo at 26 secs
7. Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol) Poland BGZ at 30 secs
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 30 secs
9. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 33 secs
10. Tiago Machado (Por) Radioshack at 41 secs
Stage six: Martin retains lead as Mollema wins
Stage five: Martin takes overall lead in Poland
Stage four: Lorenzetto leads home Lampre one-two
Stage three: Hutarovich takes win by less than half a wheel
Stage two: Greipel bounces back for stage two victory in Poland
Stage one: Guarnieri claims stage win in Poland
Dan Martin: Rider Profile