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After a great performance by IAM in the finale, Pelucchi came from far back to narrowly pass Nizzolo and Van Asbroeck in the bunch sprint on stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne; Kittel defended his lead

Photo: IAM Cycling

GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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IAM CYCLING

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MARCEL KITTEL

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MATTEO PELUCCHI

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TOM VAN ASBROECK

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TOUR DE POLOGNE

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04.08.2015 @ 19:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Matteo Pelucchi (IAM) confirmed that he is the in-form sprinter at the moment when he took his second victory in a row in the bunch sprint on stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne. The Italian benefited from great teamwork to come from far back and narrowly passed Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) and Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo) just before the line. Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) could only manage seventh but defended his yellow jersey.

 

Yesterday Matteo Pelucchi did a very impressive sprint to win the second stage of the Tour de Pologne. However, the win was slightly controversial as a big crash had taken out most of his rivals and hampered several big contenders, including race leader Marcel Kittel.

 

Pelucchi was unfazed by the polemic and today he proved that his win was no fluke when he claimed the third stage in another bunch sprint. Unlike yesterday, there were no crashes and the Italian simply proved to be the fastest after a late climb had seen Kittel lose too many positions and make for a highly unorganized sprint.

 

Things were not made any easier by a very strong Marcin Bialoblocki (Poland) who was the lone survivor from an early break and who proved to be very hard to catch. The Polish time trial champion still held a 45-second advantage with 10km to go and no sprint team had taken control yet.

 

This was the signal for Orica-GreenEDGE to kick into action and the Australians gathered seven riders on the front. Damien Howson, Simon Clarke and Christian Meier traded pulls and their work had a big effect.

 

Bialoblocki was still looking strong but his gap was now coming down quickly. With 8km to go, it was only 20 seconds and he continued to lose time while the sprint trains battled for position.

 

With 6km to go, the gap was 15 seconds and it was still Meier, Howson and Clarke setting the pace. Giant-Alpecin moved up next to the Australians but Caleb Ewan’s team came out on top to bring Bialoblocki back with 4.3km to go.

 

Clarke took a massive turn until Mathew Hayman took over at the bottom of the final climb with 2km to go. However, the train was disorganized as Ewan was not with his teammates and it was the Trek team that was riding behind Hayman.

 

Borut Bozic 8Astana) accelerated on the climb before Brett Lancaster (Orica-GreenEDGE) took over. However, it was Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) who launched a strong attack and crested the summit with a small advantage.

 

At the flamme rouge, Vakoc was caught by a small group that included Tom Van Asbroeck, Dennis van Winden (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Sven Erik Bystrøm (Katusha) but the Norwegian was left to do all the work, meaning that IAM managed to bring it back together with 700m to go. Vicente Reynes and Roger Kluge did the lead-out for Pelucchi but the Italian found himself back in fifth position behind Giacomo Nizzolo and Van Asbroeck.

 

Nizzolo launched the sprint on the downhill finishing straight and looked destined to take the win. However, Pelucchi came fast from behind and narrowly managed to pass hi compatriot while Van Asbroeck took third.

 

Kittel finished further back but it was enough for him to defend his lead. He now has a six-second advantage over Nizzolo as we go into the fourth stage of the race. Here the riders will hit the first serious climbs as the riders will tackle two category 1 and one category 2 climb in the second half before they get to the final 30km which are completely flat, meaning that a reduced sprint is the expected outcome.

 

One for the sprinters

After two flat stages, the sprinters were expected to get their final opportunity in stage 3 which brought the riders over 166km from Zawiercie to Katowice. The roads were almost completely flat and the stage ended with 4 laps of a 14.7km finishing circuit that included two smaller climbs which were both used to hand out KOM points out once. However, they were insignificant challenges and with a downhill finishing straight, all was set for a very fast sprint.

 

It was another hot and sunny day when the riders gathered for the start of the third stage. Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) was absent as he is exhausted after the Tour de France and has decided to recover for the Canadian WorldTour races. Maxim Belkov (Katusha) who crashed yesterday, was the other non-starter.

 

The break takes off

Right from the start of the stage, Ian Boswell (Sky), Matej Mohoric (Cannondale), Adrian Kurek (CCC), Marcin Bialoblocki (Poland) and Marcus Burghardt (BMC) attacked and they quickly got an advantage of 30 seconds. Kamil Gradek (Poland) tried to bridge the gap but when the gap had gone out to 1.10, he was still 50 seconds behind.

 

Giant-Alpecin took control in the peloton and they allowed the gap to reach two minutes. Gradek was still 40 seconds behind but Bialoblocki dropped back to try to help him join the front. After a big chase effort, they made the junction.

 

Giant-Alpecin in control

At the 20km mark, the gap had gone out to 3 minutes but that was as much as they would get. Giant-Alpecin worked well to keep the gap at around 2.45 for a while.

 

The riders covered 45.4km during a fast opening hour of the stage before Bialoblocki and Mohoric attacked in an attempt to win the special sprint. After the sprint, it came back together but the gap had been brought down to 2 minutes.

 

Gradek wins the sprint

Marcel Kittel had to work to rejoin the peloton after a puncture but Giant-Alpecin didn’t slow down. As they approached the first intermediate sprint, the gap was only 1.35. Mohoric attacked in an attemot to win the sprint but it was Gradek who crossed the line first followed by Bialoblocki and Burghardt. At this point, the peloton had allowed the gap to go put to 2.05.

 

Rick Flens (LottoNL-Jumbo) rejoined the peloton after a mechanical while Giant-Alpecin kept the gap stable at around 2 minutes for a while. At the same time, Bialoblocki beat Burghardt and Gradek in the second intermediate sprint.

 

The break splits up

Mohoric and Bialoblocki attacked their companions and the front group was briefly split into three- two-rider groups. Kurek and Boswell managed to rejoin the front while Gradek and Burghardt were caught by the peloton.

 

Bialoblocki was in a class of his own in the final intermediate sprint while Boswell narrowly edged Kurek out for second. Meanwhile, the peloton had allowed the gap to go out to 2.20 which prompted IAM and Trek to lend Giant-Alpecin a hand.

 

More teams start to chase

Clement Chevrier, Jonathan Fumeaux (IAM), Tom Stamsnijder (Giant-Alpecin) and Jesse Sergent (Trek) traded pulls and when they crossed the finishing line, they had brought the gap down to 2.10. Despite the relaxed atmosphere in the peloton, they rode pretty fast and at the end of the first lap, the gap was only 1.10 which prompted Sergent to end his work.

 

While Chevrier, Stamsnijder and Fumeaux continued to ride on the front, the peloton slowed down a bit and so the gap went out to 1.25 before they again upped the pace. Meanwhile, more teams started to gather their troops near the front.

 

Bialoblocki attacks

No one wanted to challenge Kurek in the first KOM sprint and he led Mohoric and Boswell over the top. At this time, the gap was only 45 seconds but as rain started to fall and the peloton took the turns cautiously, they managed to extend their advantage to 1.00 at the next passage of the line where Burghardt was now taking pulls for BMC.

 

With 23km to go, the gap was down to 40 seconds and now Bialoblocki decided to attack. Boswell took off in pursuit while Kurek and Mohoric were caught.

 

Etixx-QuickStep take control

Burghardt, Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) and Silvan Dillier (BMC) all tried to attack from the peloton but Etixx-QuickStep marked everything closely before they hit the front with Carlos Verona and Maxime Bouet. Moments later, IAM went back to work with Chevrier.

 

With 20km to go, the gap had again gone out to 30 seconds and Verona and Bouet had taken control of the peloton. They brought Boswell back but were unable to prevent Bialoblocki from extending his advantage to 45 seconds.

 

On the late climb at the end of the penultimate lap, Sütterlin attacked and he got a small gap while Boeut and Verona continued to set the pace. Katusha took over but it was Orica-GreenEDGE who brought the German back when they took control with 10km to go to set the scene for the sprint finish.

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