Heading into the final day of racing George Bennett’s podium spot in the Tour de Pologne remains by just 1 second following stage 6 of the race. Georg Preidler of Groupama-FDJ took the stage honours ahead of Emanuel Buchmann of BORA-Hansgrohe and Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky. Buchmann, as a result of bonus seconds, moved up to 4th; just 1 second behind Bennett.
Both of the final stages of the Tour de Pologne would present stern challenges for the riders in the GC battle. The final stage, with six category 1 climbs before the uphill finish would be a wholly different challenge in many ways to stage 6 from Zakopane to Bukowina Tatrzańska. The 129km fished with a short 983m climb followed by a mad descent to the line, but it would be the undulating nature of the 12 climbs before that – taken in over 3 and a bit laps of a big circuit – that would do a lot of pre-finale damage.
Today’s breakaway that established during the race was a strong one and featured LottoNL-Jumbo’s Lars Boom. Alongside him were Mitchelton-Scott’s Carlos Verona, BORA-Hansgrohe’s Patrick Konrad, Bahrain Merida’s Valerio Agnoli, AG2R La Mondiale’s Nans Peters, Team Sunweb’s Louis Vervaeke, UAE Team Emirates’ Rui Costa, Katusha-Alpecin’s Jhonatan Restrepo and CCC Sprandi Polkowice’s Lukasz Owsian.
Team Sky once again took up their customary position on the front of the peloton, and were pegging back the break at a reasonably rapid rate as with the day before. With 50km of racing remaining just over 2.15mins of the break’s advantage remained over the bunch. The peloton were showing a few signs of life too, with Lachlan Morton launching a solo attack of his own to try and get across the gap to the break.
Morton’s attack was a brave one, and he caught a floundering Boom, but with the intensity on from the bunch behind him, he was never able to make serious inroads on the break’s lead; and eventually he sat up. The rest of the break were working well, but it wouldn’t take long for the climbs to take their toll and with 30km to go the gap toppled to less than a minute. On a particularly steep climb the break were brought back to heel and with 27km to go it was all to play for once again.
BMC Racing took over on the front of the peloton. With Dylan Teuns sitting in second overall they were intent on putting the yellow jersey of Kwiatkowski under as much pressure as possible. Team Sky were unmovable, but then an attack went up the road from Dries Devenyns of Quick-Step Floors who was followed by Team Sunweb’s Sam Oomen.
The pair gained a 17 second lead with 8km to go, putting Team Sky and the rest of the peloton under a little more pressure again; although Sky didn’t look panicked just yet. Steadily the duo’s lead climbed to 24 seconds, and with 5km to go they still had 21 seconds in hand; although LottoNL-Jumbo now hit the front of the group with George Bennett sitting third wheel in their train as Enrico Battaglin took on the pace setting.
Gave it all the curry left in the kitchen but came up short out there today. Last stage here tomorrow – won't be an easy one.. https://t.co/Pu0E7Ox4pN
— George Bennett? (@georgenbennett) August 9, 2018
3.2km from the finish the break were brought back and George Bennett now took over on the front of the pack. Kwiatkowski was quickly on to him though; but the Kiwi wasn’t done yet, pushing again with 3km to go and putting Sergio Luis Henao under pressure as he looked to peg back the LottoNL-Jumbo rider for his teammate. Bennett’s attack put a number of riders under a lot of pressure and when he made another acceleration with 2.7km to go he finally found daylight as Henao looked to be done.
With 2km remaining the road evened out a bit and Bennett pressed on, edging a little closer to the win as the road ramped up one last time. Behind him, though, Dylan Teuns took up the pace though and with 1.2km to go Bennett was swept back up into the group. He was able to remain in the group though as Thibaut Pinot hit the front with 1km to go. It was a two-pronged attack from Groupama-FDJ as Georg Preidler then hit the downhill at exactly the right time, attacking to get just enough of a gap to take the win ahead of Buchmann and Kwiatkowski with Simon Yates 4th ahead of Dylan Teuns; with Sergei Chernetski of Astana 6th and Bennett arriving home in 7th.