There was a change of profile on the Tour of Poland this Monday. The very long stage 3 finished with an explosive climb in Przemyśl, where Quentin Pacher was able to shine. Always in the front on the last climb, the 30-year-old Frenchman even attacked 200 meters from the finish. He eventually came short for some dozens of metres, but the Groupama-FDJ rider still grabbed fifth place on the line, alongside the main favourites. This great performance also made it climb to ninth place overall on Monday.

“That was quite a day today,” saidJussi Veikkanen to start his debriefing. “We left the hotel just after 8 a.m. because we had a long drive to get to the start of what was the longest stage of the Tour of Poland”. Officially, 237.9 kilometres were on the menu for the riders with a very flat profile until the last forty, quite hilly. “It was quite a long day, of 245 kilometres if you count the neutral”, added Quentin Pacher. Five men broke away in front of the peloton to lead the way on this stage. “There was a bit of a fight at the start, then the break went, with Theuns and Brändle in particular”, said Jussi. “They got a 7-8 minute lead, the peloton reacted quickly and then kept the gap around three minutes for a very long time. At a certain point, we felt like time was passing slowly. Sixty-five kilometres from the finish, the bunch got a bit nervous entering an open area, but it did not have consequences. We then arrived on the final circuit that we knew from last year. The goal was to protect Quentin, maybe also Bruno, ahead of the three-climb sequence which was located twenty kilometres from the finish. Jacopo and Bram did that well. Quentin and Bruno were able to hit the first climb in a good position, which was important”. “The punchy final suited me”, added Quentin. “I had this stage in mind, and I wanted to go all-in on the last climb, without thinking too much. I could benefit from the support of all the riders who usually are in Arnaud’s lead-out train. They protected me perfectly all day.”

“Both encouraging and frustrating”, Quentin Pacher

In the first three climbs, the peloton lost a lot of riders from behind and the breakaway was caught. Bruno Armirail followed a few moves, but it was a small bunch that eventually got over this sequence, twenty kilometres from the line. “Once we tackled the hills, we found ourselves together with Bruno, and he protected me until the bottom of the final climb”, added Quentin. “They never panicked”, continued Jussi. “They got over the three climbs in a good way and there were only about forty guys left in the peloton at that point. Diego Ulissi’s teammates set the pace before the bottom of the final, hard climb, where it all came down to legs”. 1,500 meters long and featuring a 7.7% average gradient, the last hill did damage right from the bottom, but Quentin Pacher immediately moved up to the top ten positions. “Instinct played a role there, but it was also a lactic effort, where you needed to hold on as long as possible”, said the Frenchman. “I had watched the final of last year prior to the stage. On the climb, I really thought I could go for the win. I knew it was getting flat again with 200 metres to go. When I saw the sign, I made my effort. I took the turn in first position, but I was running out of speed, and guys came from behind”. In the short descent to the finish, Quentin Pacher was therefore undertaken by four competitors, thus placing 5th on the day.

“We always want to win, of course, but I think this result shows that he managed his July break well and that he is ready straight away”, said Jussi Veikkanen. “We are happy with this performance, but we’re surely hungry for more”. “It’s both encouraging and frustrating, but it’s positive overall”, concluded Quentin, now ninth overall, ten seconds behind the winner and new leader Sergio Higuita. “It’s still my returning race, and I want to do a nice Tour of Poland to improve gradually. This bodes well for the future, and it gives a good momentum ahead of the next stages. I’m happy to be in the mix from the start and to fight for the win. There is also a good spirit in the team. It’s not a group I’m used to racing with, as I have only done Milan-Sanremo with them, but I give them a hand when I can on the flat stages, and they gave it back to me today”.

No comment