Lenny Martinez brilliantly passed the first test of the Tour de Pologne. On Sunday, in the explosive climb of Karpacz, the young climber from Groupama-FDJ matched the peloton’s best riders. After solid work from his teammates throughout the day, the former rider of “La Conti” kept the pace in the uphill final and grabbed sixth place, just four seconds behind the winner Matej Mohoric. He is now ninth overall, with the same time as the fourth.
A long day awaited the riders on Sunday in the Tour of Poland, since more than 200 kilometres were to be covered to reach Karpacz after a hilly final. The first 140 kilometres, on the other hand, were extremely flat, which didn’t make for a lively start. Only three decided to take the lead, namely Jacopo Mosca (Lidl-Trek), Lorenzo Milesi (DSM) and Sam Brand (Team Novo Nordisk), and the peloton initially let them go. “Soudal-Quick Step pulled without really pulling since the gap increased to ten minutes”, explained Frédéric Guesdon. “Then, some teams that were aiming for victory like Ineos Grenadiers, UAE Team Emirates and Bora-hansgrohe led the chase and came back very close to the breakaway with fifty kilometres to go, when we approached the climbs”. At this point, Lenny Martinez, the team’s leader, was also slowed down and delayed by a crash. “We wanted to be conservative throughout the first part, where Bram and Paul had to support Lenny”, explained Frédéric. “Then, the goal was to move Lenny up in the bunch with the help of Clément, Lorenzo, Sam and Lewis. Due to the crash, Clément had to spend his energy a little earlier to bring Lenny back into the peloton”.
“A great teamwork”, Frédéric Guesdon
The French climber managed to come back easily in the bunch, which caught the last fugitives nearly twenty-five kilometres from the finish, just before the climb of Sosnówka (5 km at 5.6%). “Sam was right up there to protect Lenny, then the others joined them before the last climb”, added Fred. “There was great teamwork. That’s what we hoped for, but it’s never easy. In the end, everything went as we had decided”. Within a reduced bunch, Lenny Martinez could still count on Clément Davy, Sam Watson, Lorenzo Germani and Lewis Askey as he approached the Karpacz climb (3.7 km at 7%). Right from the first ramps, Rafal Majka attacked and took a few seconds. The peloton lost many riders right away, but Lenny Martinez always remained at the front after a final pull from Lewis Askey. “We had decided to observe Almeida, who is a specialist of this kind of finish”, explained Fred. “We told Lenny not to panic if there were attacks because it was not up to us to chase. We had to follow a rider, which he did. He waited and made his effort at the very end”. In a group of about fifteen units at the flamme rouge, a few lengths from Majka and Van Eetvelt, Lenny Martinez followed the first accelerations and momentarily found himself in contention for the stage victory.
“Lenny fought with the best”, Frédéric Guesdon
In the last few hundred metres, however, he could not keep pace with Matej Mohoric and Joao Almeida, first and second of the stage. Still, he crossed the line four seconds later in sixth position, just behind Michal Kwiatkowski. “It’s a great performance,” said Frédéric. “The first and third won a Tour stage just recently, Almeida is a former winner of the Tour de Pologne. There are only strong riders up there. He fought with the best. We are very satisfied with him and the team as a whole. The guys are on the right track, and that’s promising. We will see over the stages if it continues, but the first test proved successful”. “The guys did a great job today to position me”, said Lenny in the evening. “The last climb was more for the punchers, but I managed to take sixth place while trying to get out of the group. It’s nice to see such a strong team around me, with a lot of young guys in particular”. This Sunday, Lenny Martinez equalled his best performance at WorldTour level and also climbed to ninth place overall. On Monday, another explosive finish is on the menu in Duszniki-Zdrój. “The start is hard too, so there could be a fight,” added Frédéric. “The finish is at the top of a one-kilometre steep climb, on a small road”.