The first hilly stage of the 2020 Tour of Poland did a bit less damage than one could expect. However, there were only 40 riders to fight for the victory in a slightly uphill finish made for the strong guys. In these circumstances, Rudy Molard managed to play his cards perfectly and net a convincing third place on the line, behind Richard Carapaz and Diego Ulissi. Thanks to the time bonuses collected, he is now fourth in the overall classification prior to the queen stage.
“Olivier made a good move”, Jussi Veikkanen
Four riders broke away quite early at the start of a tough third stage that, however, was not featuring categorized climbs in the last 40 kilometers. The leaders never got a big gap as the world champion’s team wished to control right away. Nevertheless, things unexpectedly got a bit lively after an hour of racing. “When we got to the first steep climbs, after 50 kilometers, there was a dangerous counterattack with De Gendt, Fuglsang and other good riders,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “They tried but never managed to join the breakaway, and Trek let them ride in between before getting back on them”. From then on, the stage unfolded in a more basic way. Unfortunately, after a fall downhill, a “stunned” Mickaël Delage was forced to abandon.
While the Frenchman was taken to hospital for in-depth check-in (the results of which will be communicated as soon as possible), the breakaway remained under constant threat from the peloton where various teams set a good pace in order to ensure a sprint finish. “On the last categorized climb with 35 kilometers to go, some riders lost ground” added Jussi. “We then had four riders in the first peloton, then five with Fabian who returned after a small split”. It eventually all came down to the final circuit, which was supposed to be done three times and which was ending with quite a long, slight uphill road. After all the leaders got caught with one lap to go, the peloton accelerated towards the finish. It did not prevent Olivier Le Gac to launch an attack with two kilometers to go. “Olivier made a good attempt, said Jussi. It made also made it hard for some in the right time. The last sprinters in the group got dropped and could not compete. It was a good move”.
“Everyone was a bit done and I took advantage of it”, Rudy Molard
The Ineos train eventually caught him but Rudy and Anthony were still there among the fifty or so riders forming the peloton. However, the victory was not contested in the sprint as Richard Carapaz managed to attack 350 meters from the finish and hold back the rest of them. Diego Ulissi won the “peloton” sprint ahead of Rudy Molard, who made a good come back. “Rudy is not in a great position when he launches his sprint, but he had strength and he managed to take third place,” Jussi confirmed. “It’s a great result”. Molard himself was also satisfied in the end. “We lost Marc on the first day and Micka today, but we tried to remain focused because the finish could suit us, Anthony and myself,” said Rudy. “I’m happy to get this third place on a WorldTour stage, especially on a stage like this, after a long sprint for strong guys, on a slight uphill stretch. It shows that the condition is good, especially after a very tiring day. Everyone was a little bit done by the end and I took advantage of it”. Also, the stage eventually did a bit of damage. “They’re only 30 or so to finish in the same time,” Jussi said. “The heat and the distance also made it difficult today and it’s going to leave marks on some. For us, anyway, it’s a nice bonus and Rudy is doing very well”.
Thanks to his four seconds of time bonuses that got along his third place, Rudy Molard now is fourth overall (6 seconds behind leader Richard Carapaz) before the real fight on Saturday. “Tomorrow, the finish is a bit similar to the one of today, although it will be much harder beforehand,” added Jussi. “We are going to face climbs that we know well. There won’t be many surprises on this very difficult circuit. With 3000 meters of elevation over 150 kilometers, it is clearly a stage for strong guys”. “I will try to recover well, concluded Rudy, because the general classification is made tomorrow”.