As usual in Bielsko-Biala, a tough sprint concluded stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne this Wednesday. After 200 kilometres of racing, Dutchman Marijn van den Berg took victory while Lewis Askey snatched eighth place on the day. Sam Watson nearly crashed on the home stretch while Lenny Martinez avoided any trouble ahead of Thursday’s time trial.

On the Tour de Pologne, this Wednesday, the attackers could have some hope considering the hilly portion hallway through the stage. Consequently, the fight for the breakaway was tougher than the previous days before Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Dstny), Mick van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma), Tobias Lund Andresen (DSM-firmenich), Markus Hoelgaard (Lidl- Trek) and Bert Van Lerberghe (Soudal-Quick Step) eventually managed to hit the front. “The battle lasted for about twenty kilometres, and it was not just anyone in front”, confirmed Frédéric Guesdon. “The leader’s team let the gap increase to five minutes during the first seventy kilometres, all flat”. Following this first third of the race, the second featured no less than five climbs over the following seventy kilometres. “We tackled the climbs five minutes behind, and they took it quite easy on the first, second and third climbs”, added Frédéric. “Then, UAE Team Emirates started to pull, but it mostly was Ineos Grenadiers who paced up in the last big climb. The pace was very fast up the climb, we closed three minutes on the breakaway, and it obviously exploded. The race was really decided at that point.”

“We are on track”, Frédéric Guesdon

The British team’s climbers started to pull more than sixty kilometres from the finish and the race therefore took another turn. “We didn’t know if he was going to get over the climb, but if he did, we wanted to go with Paul because he liked the slightly uphill finish,” explained Frédéric. “He wasn’t far from doing it. He passed the climb 15-20 seconds behind the main peloton, but they kept on pulling hard in front, precisely so that the sprinters couldn’t come back. It’s a bit of a pity, but he fought well because a lot of riders and sprinters were dropped before him. There were only sixty riders left in the peloton including Lenny, Lewis, Sam and Lorenzo”. The peloton also had to chase hard to catch the breakaway, especially Thomas De Gendt, who was finally brought back twelve kilometres from the line. During the last lap around Bielsko-Biala, the peloton also experienced a short moment of confusion due to the crash of a motorbike. Everything eventually came down to the uphill false flat to the finish (2.3 km at 4 %). “We tried to go with Lewis, but it was a tough sprint, and he wasn’t maybe in the best position”, said Frédéric. “It’s a pity because I think he could have done better, but it’s still a positive day. We are on track.”

The young Briton therefore grabbed eighth place in a sprint won by Marijn van den Berg. Sam Watson, also in the mix at 300 metres, suffered a collision with another rider and almost crashed. “It’s a race incident but we got by fine” added Frédéric. Splits then happened, but the riders were eventually given the same time as the winner. Thirty-sixth of the day, Lenny Martinez therefore didn’t lose anything. He now sits tenth overall, twenty-six seconds behind the yellow jersey Matej Mohoric, as the decisive 16.6-kilometre time trial in Katowice looms on Thursday. “He will do his best, he can limit his losses, and I think he is capable of securing the top-10 overall,” concluded Frédéric.