Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) has painted a masterpiece on the roads of the Tour de Pologne. In the "crowning stage" at Bukowina Tatrzanska, the longest stage at 207.7 km, with 11 Mountain Grand Prix, the winner of 2010 edition was greeted with success and thus has shot to the head of the general classification to grab the yellow "Skandia" jersey from Peter Sagan.
The stage was punctuated by the group that broke away from the pack on the first Mountain Grand Prix of the day, featuring 10 riders: Morris Possoni (Sky), Laurent Didier (Saxo Bank), Diego Ulissi (Lampre) Thomas Roharegger (Leopard), Oscar Pujol (Omega Pharma - Lotto), Simon Geschke (Skil Shimano), Nelson Oliveira (Radioshack), Patxi Vila (De Rosa), Jacek Morajko (CCC Polsat) and Michal Golas (Vacansoleil). It was none other than Poland's own Michal Golas who took advantage of the escape to earn the maximum points possible on the Mountian Grand Prix, securing the cyclamen "Tauron" jersey that distinguishes the best climber in the group.
The fugitives got caught at about 30 km from the arrival, which gave way to fast bursts and the battle among the men leading the rankings. Daniel Martin got things started on the second-to-last climb of the day, attempting an initial attack at about 12km from the arrival, yet only managing to create a 10-second lead on the head group, which immediately caught up to him. However, in the last kilometre, Martin made his decisive move. While it was raining the Irishman pulled an impressive forcing on the slight, downhill straightaway towards Bukowina Tatrzanska, busting ahead of all his adversaries and heading to the finish line alone, where he crossed in front of the duo from Vacansoleil made up of Dutchman Wout Poels and Italian Marco Marcato. After hanging in there all day, Peter Sagan had to admit defeat with only 500 metres to go, crossing the finish line with a 13-second disadvantage.
"I really gave it my all today," says Martin. "I attacked in order to win the stage; the leader's yellow jersey comes as quite a surprise. It will be hard to hang on to it tomorrow but let's see what happens. Sagan is faster than me, but on our team we have Haussler, who can bust a good sprint, so we'll see. Back to today, I'd say we were very lucky with the weather. It's a nice victory, earned in a high level race with excellent riders in the line up."
The final stage in the 2011 Tour de Pologne promises to be unpredictable and exciting. The Tour is still wide open. Tomorrow, in addition to the battle between the sprinters to get to the final sprint in Krakow, it will also be an open battle for the yellow jersey with Martin ahead of Peter Sagan by a mere 3 seconds.
"It was a hard stage," says Sagan. "I did my best, but with just a few metres to go to the finish line I got cramps and I could no longer pedal with any force. Nothing is decided in the final classification yet. I'm only 3" behind Martin. I'm going to go for the intermediate sprints and the final sprint on the arrival to try to reap a few seconds' advantage."
The "Fiat" red jersey remains solidly on the back of Poland's Adrian Kurek, while the white & green "Plus" jersey for the points' rankings goes to Peter Sagan. Vacansoleil continues to lead the team rankings.
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Watch and download the photos of the 6th stage, © Tour de Pologne (free usage):