Jonas Vangenechten (Lotto-Belisol) came out best in a closely contested sprint to win stage four of the Tour of Poland.
Vangenechten’s success continues a run of surprise victors in Poland this week. Prior to today, the 27 year old Belgian’s only two professional victories were minor classics at Euro Tour level.
Petr Vakov retains his lead in the overall classification, on a flat day that saw him put under no threat.
Vangenechten won by emerging from behind to overtake Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana), Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) and Sacha Modolo (Lampre), who finished second, third and fourth respectively.
It was an unusual bunch sprint, with all the riders rooted to their saddles as they approached, suggesting that they may have been undergeared. It was also a widely contested finish, with riders spread out all across the road straining for the win.
For a second day running, Mezgec will be frustrated with how his sprint turned out. Although his Giant-Shimano team proved their usual speedy lead-out to put him in a good position, the team suffered a rare mishap as final lead-out man Nikias Arndt failed to make enough room for his leader to come round, causing Mezgec to open his sprint too late and ultimately run out of road to catch Vangenechten.
Prior to the sprint, the day was characterised by many hopeful breakaways. Britain’s Josh Edmondson (Sky) formed a three man group with Matthias Krizek (Cannondale) and Mateusz Taciak (CCC) that got away after an original break of five – featuring Alexander Rybakov (Katusha), B.Vallee Lotto-Belisol), Branislau Samoilau (CCC), Andrei Solomennikov (Rusvelo) and Jerome Cousin (Europcar) – had been caught early on.
Edmondson’s group was later joined by two counter-attackers in Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Pol) and – yet again – Cousin, but even the extra man-power was never going to be enough to hold off a determined bunch on such flat roads, and they were caught with around 10km to go.
The attacks continued to come, however, with several riders apparently inspired by Taylor Phinney’s race-winning attack here in Katowice at last year’s Tour of Poland, 7.5k from the finish line. Maciej Paterski (CCC), Fabio Felline (Trek), and even Thor Hushovd in the final 2 kilometres were among those to try their luck, but the peloton just about managed to keep things under control and force a bunch finish.
Tour of Poland 2014, stage 4: Tarnow to Katowice, 232km
1. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) Lotto-Belisol in 05-43-29
2. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana
3. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Shimano
4. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale
6. Davide Appollono (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale
7. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
8. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Giant-Shimano
9. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp all st
Overall Classification after stage four
1. Petr Vakoc (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 05-23-54
2. Mathias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale at 0-26
3. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r at 0-27
4. Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin
5. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Shimano
6. Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) Lotto-Belisol all at 0-27
7. Roman Maikin (Rus) Rusvelo at 0-31
8. Boris Vallee (Bel) Lotto-Belisol at 0-33
9. Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre at st
10. Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC at 0-35