Tour de Pologne Stage 5 Preview
Stage 5 will be a familiar finish, last year it was the scene of a memorable finish where Michal Kwiatkowski launched his sprint from distance and held it to the line. It's not an easy stage, it's a rolling one with some short climbs, with 33 kilometers to go there's the summit of a 4.1Km long climb at 6.5%, it will be a hard one before entering the final circuit which consists in 4 short laps that climax on a short climb.
At 3.6% during 2.3 kilometers it isn't a very hard climb, last year Kwiatkowski averaged 39Km/h during it so it is very noticeable, the gradient kicks to 5% near the line, it's a finish that suits a sprinter that can climb or it suits the more explosive puncheurs. It's a long sprint, as it is a stage that allows the fast men to have leadout, that combined with positioning will burn the sprinters, it will be hard for them to resist but it's around a 50/50, it depends on how the pace is before the final lap.
A warm day but with rain showers expected once again. Not the best weather certainly taking into acount what it led to already but the decisive moments are uphill so it shouldn't make much of a difference. The wind will be weak unless some gusts appear, they'll come from the south which would mean a somewhat headwind in the final straight.
It's an interesting stage, I don't think a breakaway will succeed because as we've seen in the last few stages there aren't many teams instered in riding like that but there are lots who are interested in netting stages, and with the dificulty tomorrow there may be some really pushing the day's climbs hard to wear out the sprinters.
Last year it came down to a sprint, Ackermann seemed to be in control but after Kwiatkowski launched an early sprint the fatigue noticed, and the Top3 ended up being one completed by puncheurs despite the relatively shallow gradients. I think the situation can repeat itself this year. There are some names that stand out, in UAE I doubt Gaviria will get the green light so have the support but instead Diego Ulissi should be the team's option, the finish suits him very well and there's a big importance to the bonus seconds on the line, that should be the case for many teams. Matej Mohoric has been showing great legs in the sprints so I would imagine he'll be up there too, not the most explosive of riders but he will surely enjoy such a hard finale. The GC riders will be up for the task, there aren't many that could thrive in such a finish but I would suspect Davide Formolo will give it a shot, Ion Izagirre and Eduard Prades are more good names to take into acount, up to a point I can also consider Sergio Higuita, he is a very light rider not exactly the best for sprinting but he has proven he can this year.
There are some puncheurs such as the Italians Enrico Battaglin and Enrico Gasparotto who could be in the fight for the win or not at all close to it and both wouldn't come as a surprise, but the main focus will come on the sprinters who can climb. Ackermann is the most pronounced name as last year he was there but struggled in the final meters, he can do these short efforts but needs an easier race. Those that can climb, maybe the main favourites include Danny van Poppel and Luka Mezgec at first sight, they can definetely climb and like the long sprints which is pretty much what will be the case tomorrow, Ben Swift should also give it another go and he won't have any better chance in this race.
⭐ Gaviria, I.Izagirre, Prades, Higuita, Battaglin, Gasparotto
My call for tomorrow is Danny van Poppel, great legs so far in the sprints and he is perfectly suited for such a finish, the team has his back and it's an all-in for a big stage win for the Dutch.
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