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Phil Bauhaus wins stage 5 of the Tour of Poland after crash in finale

Bunch sprint foiled by final-kilometer pileup that blocked the road.

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Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) triumphed in stage 5 of the Tour of Poland, one of only eight riders who were not impeded by a big crash inside the final kilometer.

The German rider outsprinted Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), Nikias Arndt (Team DSM), Max Kanter (Movistar Team) and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) to the line in Rzeszów.

A big bunch sprint looked certain but a 90-degree right-hand bend saw a rider from the Jumbo-Visma team slide out, with a Bora-Hansgrohe rider coming down in the fall and others also hitting the deck. While the total number of those on the ground wasn’t high, the roadway was blocked and this limited the sprint to those who were ahead of the mishap.

Bauhaus said that the help of Jonathan Milan inside the final kilometer was a key part of his win. “I had Jonny for the final leadout and I’m super happy I could finish it off. He’s proved these last few days (and this year on the track) that he’s super strong, and he left me in first position in the last 150m. I’m super happy I could win.

“In a bunch sprint, it’s not always about having the best legs; it’s also about the team, tactics, and timing. I was second on day one, and I’ve proved this year I’m one of the best sprinters in the world. So the team and I have always been confident that I can win a lot of races at WorldTour level. It was just a matter of time before I won again.”

The 178.1 kilometer stage was marked by an early break which comprised Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Qazaqstan), Boy Van Poppel (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel-PremierTech), Mateusz Grabis and Jakub Murias (both Poland National Team) plus Shane Archbold, the Bora-Hansgrohe teammate of race leader Sergio Higuita.

American rider Sean Quinn (EF Education/EasyPost) joined up after 10 kilometers of racing, becoming race leader on the road. Michal Schlegel (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) also bridged to make it eight attackers, and together they built a maximum lead of over five minutes.

Quinn and Würtz Schmidt then pushed ahead inside the final 45 kilometers and were subsequently joined by Fedorov inside the final 15. He sat up inside the final ten kilometers, realizing it was impossible to hold off the bunch, and the other two were gobbled up with 2.8 kilometers to go.

A big crash inside the final kilometer then slashed the number of stage contenders to eight, with Bauhaus best of those.

Race leader Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) was delayed but, as with Tuesday’s stage, was given the same time as the bunch as per UCI rules. He holds the yellow jersey heading into Thursday’s time trial.

“Today was more a sprinters stage. In the final we went really fast,” he said. “Unfortunately today we had another crash, I didn’t go down because I was more careful today. I went a little bit behind in the peloton and the crash was in the front on the right corner. We finished good today.”

He confirmed that the knee he injured was not giving him major problems. “There’s a little bit of pain, but all is okay.”

How it unfolded:

Time trial aside, Wednesday’s fourth stage of the Tour de Pologne was the second-shortest of the race at 178.1 kilometers in length. Starting in Lańcut and ending in Rzeszów, it was run off on undulating terrain which featured numerous ramps but only two categorized climbs.

These were the third-category ascents of Dynów (km 111.5) and Rzesźow (km 148). There was also an intermediate sprint just before the first climb.

A big group sprint seemed likely, although much would depend on how hard the peloton raced over the undulating terrain.

Attacks went immediately after the start in Lańcut and a group soon moved clear. Shane Archbold was there to mark the attacking riders and with his Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Sergio Higuita leading overall, was under no obligation to work in the move.

The others present were Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Qazaqstan), Boy Van Poppel (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux), Tuesday’s attacker Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel-PremierTech), Mateusz Grabis and Jakub Murias (both Poland National Team),

A seventh rider, the American Sean Quinn (EF Education/EasyPost) was in pursuit and joined up ten kilometers after the start. The gap to the peloton was over two minutes at that point, making him race leader on the road. He had started the day 22nd overall, 29 seconds behind Higuita.

Michal Schlegel (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) then made the junction four kilometers later, increasing the group out front to eight riders. The gap hovered around the three minute mark for quite some time, then jumped to five minutes heading towards the halfway point. Bahrain Victorious, Ineos Grenadiers and Bora-Hansgrohe were doing a lot of the work in the peloton.

Quinn took the intermediate sprint at Dynów, just before the climb of the same name. He beat Murias and Van Poppel, with Murias best on the climb itself. He crossed the prime line ahead of Schlegel and Würtz Schmidt.

The break was 3:40 ahead of the bunch after 120 kilometers of racing but the gap fell to just 1:30 over the next 15 kilometers. This caused concern to Quinn and Würtz Schmidt, who attacked inside the final 45 kilometers and began to build a lead over their former breakaway companions.

Würtz Schmidt lead Quinn over the day’s second climb, after which they raced towards the first passage of the finish line and the start of the concluding 19.1 kilometer lap. The chasing group was 26 seconds back there, while the bunch crossed that line 1:06 down and closing.

Fedorov jumped clear of the chasers and bridged across to the leading duo, with the other mopped up by the peloton. The three leaders were working hard together but had a gap of just 20 seconds with ten kilometers to go, making a bunch sprint the most likely outcome.

Fedorov sat up and went back to peloton very soon afterwards. Würtz Schmidt and Quinn continued on but they were mopped up with 2.8 kilometers remaining. The sprinters’ teams drilled it to the line from there, fully expecting a huge gallop, but a crash inside final kilometer blocked the road and slashed the number of stage contenders to less than ten.

Bauhaus was best, beating a lunging Demaré, and said he is hoping to add another victory before the end of the race. “Now we hope our GC guys can do a good time trial tomorrow, and then on the last day, we expect another bunch sprint.

“My legs are good, I’m in great condition and I’m in one of the best teams in the world. We’ve proved that together as a team, we can win a lot of races, so I’ll hope to get another result in Krakow.”

As for race leader Sergio Higuita, he said he is feeling good heading into the TT. “I’m looking forward to the time trial tomorrow with confidence.”

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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