The first WorldTour stage race after the Tour de France ended on Sunday in the streets of Krakow. In a final stage made for the sprinters, four riders from the initial breakaway managed to upset the peloton and fight for victory. Jake Stewart finished thirteenth in this final day of racing. Groupama-FDJ therefore concluded the Tour de Pologne with a stage top-10 to its record and Romain Seigle’s eighteenth place overall.
Everything led to assume the final day of racing in the Tour de Pologne would end with a mass sprint. From Zabrze to Krakow, only 145 kilometers were on the menu of the last stage, which did not feature any real difficulty. The peloton also thought they had everything under control when they let five men go away from the first minutes of racing. Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), Alexis Renard (Israel Start-Up Nation), Julius van den Berg (EF Education-Nippo), Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar) also never got more than a two minute-lead, as the various sprinters’ teams were making not to take any risk. After two hours of racing averaging a pace of 47 km/h, the peloton even came back just one minute behind the day’s fugitives. Yet, despite the loss of Vanspeybrouck in the lead, the breakaway still managed to maintain this one-minute advantage as they entered the Krakow circuit (three times 5k). The panic really picked up in the bunch, but the quartet managed to keep forty seconds as the last lap began. It was therefore enough to get the better of the day’s favourites. In a four-man sprint, Julius van den Berg then took his first professional win, three seconds ahead of the bunch where Jake Stewart placed 13th on the stage.
“They fought as best they could”, Frédéric Guesdon
“We had decided to be attentive at the start, but only if large groups got away,” Frédéric Guesdon explained later. “The breakaway went from the start with five men and I wouldn’t have thought it could make it to the end. We especially wanted to focus on the sprint for Jake. So the whole team helped him afterwards. We don’t have any big regrets either because Jake probably wouldn’t have won, some were faster than him on that kind of finish. We saw that later as he finished ninth from the peloton’s sprint. However, we always take the start to win, and we did not succeed. It’s a little bit disappointing”. It was time to take stock of this Tour de Pologne, where the team scored one top-10 and three top-20 on stages (all from Jake Stewart) as well as a top-20 overall. “The balance is average, because we did not get super results, even though we knew from the start that it would be difficult,” concluded Frédéric. “The Tour de Pologne is a WorldTour event, it was a week of top-level racing, and we had a young group that hadn’t raced for a while. We came with Jake for the sprints and Attila for the GC. We had to let the overall go quite early, but Romain still got us back into it with this eighteenth place. It was good to keep the group motivated and committed all day. Attila also had a great breakaway. It was hard to come away with results but they fought as best they could”.