It was a first for Bruno Armirail. This Thursday on stage 6 of the Tour of Poland, the Frenchman was finally able to show off the tricolour jersey he conquered last June. On a particular track of twelve kilometres, including ten uphill, the Groupama-FDJ rider took eleventh place in the time trial, thirty-six seconds behind the winner. Thanks to this performance, he moved up to tenth overall. Quentin Pacher dropped down to sixteenth.
Arguably the most decisive stage of the week was on the menu of the Tour of Poland this Thursday. Only twelve kilometres were to be covered, but on a solo effort and through a specific parkour. “We knew the area, because there is usually a road stage here”, said Jussi Veikkanen. “This year, they rather organized a time trial. The defining feature was that it included some uphill false flats and a little climb (2.2 km at 6.1%). There was then a short descent before the last 500 meters, which was a last slope into a ski resort. It was a nice course. Our two riders for GC did a recon, and we aimed to do a good performance with both. It suited them well because it was not a time for pure specialists. We knew that the general classification was going to be decided today. We had a double goal: the stage and the overall. We also knew that it was going to come down to a few seconds”. Jacopo Guarnieri was the first team rider to show up in the start area, just after 2 p.m. He was followed by Bram Welten, Ignatas Konovalovas and Arnaud Démare, who was wearing the points classification jersey. At 3:43 p.m., Bruno Armirail got underway, with the blue-white-red jersey on his shoulders for the first time.
“I would have liked to honour the jersey more”, Bruno Armirail
After a solid time at the top of the uphill section, the French champion crossed the line in provisional fourth position, before gradually losing a few ranks with the other competitors completing the course. “Bruno did a good time trial, faultless, consistent, with good trajectories”, commented Jussi, who was guiding him. “He gave everything he could. It was also his first time trial with the French champion’s jersey, so he really wanted to perform. He did his best, that is for sure”. “I liked the course, but I had no good feelings, no strength”, said Bruno. “I did not manage to ride fast, and in the harder part, I was not going well. That’s how it is, unfortunately. It’s of course a pleasure to ride with this jersey but I would have liked to honour it more. There will be other opportunities.” Twenty minutes later, Quentin Pacher also finished the stage, just outside the provisional top-20. Eventually, Bruno Armirail came away with eleventh place, 36 seconds behind the winner Thymen Arensman, while Quentin Pacher took 26th place, 1’09 back. In the general classification, the time trial specialist moved up to tenth position, while the puncher dropped down to sixteenth. “Being in the top ten in a WorldTour event, it means something,” added Jussi. “Quentin also did a good time trial and fought well”.
As for Arnaud Démare, he tried to manage his energy on the eve of the last stage, which could suit the sprinters. “We saw yesterday that you should never play too much with the breakaway”, said Jussi. “The start of the stage is hard, we’ll need to stay attentive and the goal will of course be to bring Arnaud to the sprint. We will work for this”.