Tour of Poland stage 7: Matej Mohorič hangs tough for GC victory after bonus points battle

Tim Merlier wins final stage for second victory of the Tour as Mohorič beats back GC rival João Almeida in tense final day of racing.

Photo: Getty Images

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Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) nabbed the bonuses he needed on Friday’s final stage to ensure he beat João Almeida (UAE Emirates) to the overall at the Tour of Poland.

Mohorič won the GC at the Polish tour by just one second after a tense final stage into Kraków that saw the GC battle come down to bonus points.

Also read: Mohorič poised to win Tour of Poland by 74 hundredths of a second

Victory this week is the second time Mohorič secured stage-race victory based on primes. He pulled a similar feat last year when he usurped Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard to win the CRO Race on final-stage time bonuses.

Friday’s stage sees Mohorič close the curtain on a stellar opening phase of his summer. The 28-year-old won a stage at the Tour de France last month and backed it up with stage 2 victory and the overall this week in Poland.

Mohorič opted out of representing Slovenia at road worlds and will now take a break before he races the Benelux Tour at the end of August.

Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) won the bunch sprint Friday to deliver Quick-Step its third victory of the seven-day race, and the Belgian speedster his second of the week.

Friday’s 167km flat stage between Zabrze and Krakow saw a duel between Bahrain-Victorious and UAE Emirates as they vied to secure their leaders some crucial bonus points.

Mohorič and Almeida had started the stage separated by just fractions of a second, making the primes available at Friday’s two intermediate sprints and at the finish line potential race-winners.

Mohorič said after the stage Thursday he was confident he could outkick Almeida in the intermediates and proved himself right Friday.

The Bahrain-Victorious leader burst out of the bunch ahead of Almeida at the 65km sprint point to win a three-second advantage over his rival’s two, leaving him just one second ahead overall.

The day’s three-rider breakaway hoovered the prizes available at the 145km intermediate, leaving it all down to whether Almeida could serve a surprise GC coup at the finish line.

The day’s break was all scooped up inside the final 20km and Bahrain-Victorious mobbed to the front to protect Mohorič and prevent Almeida from moving.

A crash at 8km to go caused a ripple of confusion, and GC contender Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) and UAE sprinter Pascal Ackermann were among the seven that came down.

The confusion wasn’t enough to prevent the predicted sprint finish however, and Merlier zipped to the line ahead of Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling) and Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) for his second stage win of the Tour.

Almeida and Mohorič came to the line together, leaving the GC standings separated by just one second after more than 26 hours of racing.

Kwiatkowski was able to get back into the bunch before the 3km GC “safe zone” and finished on time with Almeida and Mohorič to protect third-place overall at his home Tour.

Almeida finished up second on GC for his third stage race podium of 2023. The rising Portuguese GC power also placed third at the recent Giro d’Italia.

Stage 6: Matej Mohorič clings to lead as Mattia Cattaneo powers to TT win

Tour of Poland
Cattaneo won the race against the clock Thursday. (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Mattia Cattaneo (Soudal Quick-Step) powered to victory in Thursday’s decisive time trial at the Tour of Poland.

The Italian blazed across all the time checks in first, and fended off some of the GC players to win for the first time in 2023.

Joâo Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) crossed the line second fastest, but that wasn’t enough to nudge him into the overall leader’s jersey in the 16.6km test against the clock.

“I am happy with my performance. It is always nice to win, but when you beat such a great field of riders it tastes even better,” Cattaneo said. “I’m over the moon. I’m working hard on these disciplines that I love.

“Thanks to this performance I’m now fifth in the GC. Unfortunately I lost 40 seconds on the first day. I’m getting older and it always takes a bit of time to get into the rhythm of the race, but I’m not complaining,” he said. “Today I’m happy to celebrate this victory. Now I am going to the world championships to compete in the ITT. I know my place in the peloton, so a top 10 would be a great result. I will give everything as usual and see what the result will be in the end.”

Overnight leader Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) was 12 seconds slower than the Portuguese rider, but was just fast enough to retain the lead even though they are both now tied on time, with the Slovenian a fraction of a second faster.

“I had really good legs today, maybe I held back too much in the first part of the time trial. I should have pushed more. I made the same mistake in 2021 when I was fighting with Joâo for the overall,” he said. “In the second part, which was the hardest, I did my best and it was enough to retain the jersey. Now we have the same time, so tomorrow I have to make sure that he doesn’t get a bonus or that I get more than him.”

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was third fastest on the day, with Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) riding to 10th. That bounced the Arizonan into sixth overall.

Stage 5: Reduced bunch sprint marred by crashes in finale

Tour of Poland
Marijn Van Den Berg won the stage. (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) dashed to victory Wednesday  at the Tour of Poland at the end of a hectic stage that saw a TV motorcycle crash into fans with less than 5km to go.

Four people were transported to a local hospital, but none with serious injuries, officials said.

Riders saw the crash, and overnight leader Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) said it distracted him from contesting for the win.

The front bunch slowed after the motorcycle incident, and there was discussion of neutralizing the stage. The speed kicked up again with about 2km to go as the bunch agreed to make the sprint, which provoked another pileup in the bunch.

The Dutch speedster out-paced Mohorič in the incident-marred finale. Joâo Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) crossed the line third as the GC favorites surged to the front in the climb-heavy stage.

“Yesterday went already pretty good, and I knew that today was going to be pretty hard,” Van den Berg said. “If I could survive the climbs, probably a lot of sprinters would be gone, so I would have a bigger chance, so I fought for it today, and in the end my sprint was good.”

Mohorič widened his lead to Almeida to 12 seconds, with Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), fourth on the stage, retaining the third podium spot at 18 seconds back.

“In normal conditions I should do well tomorrow in the TT,” Almeida said. “Let’s see if I can take some time on Mohorič. I’ll try and do my best and bring my best legs. It’s going to be quite explosive as it’s short with plenty of corners so it’s going to be a tough one.”

Stage 4: Olav Kooij speeds to sprint win, Matej Mohorič retains GC lead

Tour of Poland
 Olav Kooij of The Netherlands and Team Jumbo-Visma celebrates at finish line as stage winner. (Photo by Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) outkicked Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) and Matteo Moschetti (Q36.5) for sprint victory on stage 4 of the Tour of Poland.

The top of GC remains unchanged after a mostly uneventful stage Tuesday.

Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) retains the overall lead, with UAE Emirates teammates João Almeida and Rafal Majka poised just 10 seconds back.

The hill-packed 5th stage Wednesday could see the classification reshuffle significantly, however.

Stage 4 into Opole made for a template sprinter stage Tuesday.

Four riders made their move early in the day before Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step monitored the gap for fast-finishers Kooij and Tim Merlier.

The last escapee, Patryk Stosz, was reeled in at 25km to go and Ineos Grenadiers took control, with Geraint Thomas doing a bunch of pulling to help protect his GC contender teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.

The bunch all zipped into the final showdown in Opole as one, and Jumbo-Visma mobbed to the front to deliver Kooij to an impressive seventh victory for the season.

Stage 3: Rafal Majka wins on home roads

Rafal Majka

Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) kicked to victory in the third stage at the Tour of Poland.

The Polish rider edged overnight leader Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) and compatriot Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) to win the stage.

On a day which packed over 3000m of elevation, Majka stuck with the main group of favorites on the final climb on the day from Wałbrzych to Duszniki-Zdrój (162.3km).

“I’m so happy because I won the stage. Yesterday I missed 200 meters in the finish but today I found the extra push to make the difference and take the win,” Majka said. “We are here for GC for Joao Almeida but I also had the target of going for a stage win if the opportunity came up. Today it worked out perfectly and I’m very happy for all my team.”

With his first win of the season, Majka bounces into second overall, with Mohorič leading by 10 seconds heading into stage 4 from Strzelin to Opole (199.1km).

Stage 2: Matej Mohorič outsprints João Almeida for hilltop victory

Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious) outsprinted João Almeida (UAE Emirates) for the stage win and leader’s jersey on stage 2 of the Tour of Poland.

Time bonuses at the line put Mohorič four seconds ahead of Almeida on GC ahead of a series of three hilly / sprint stages to come.

Sunday’s mountaintop victory was Mohorič’s second win in just five race days after he claimed sensational victory in Poligny earlier this month on stage 19 of the Tour de France.

The climb to the line in Karpacz dominated the stage Sunday.

At 11km long and with a series of 14+ percent ramps in the final 3km, the difficulty of the summit finish meant the GC teams cooled their jets through the opening of the 200km trek toward the southern border.

Three riders were let go early and given a sizeable gap but were inevitably all gobbled up by the bunch in the hill-packed final 30km of the stage.

Jayco-AlUla, UAE Emirates, and Ineos Grenadiers piled on in the base of the Karpacz climb as the GC contenders tussled for position.

Rafal Majka (UAE Emirates) attacked first, around 3km from the finish, and was soon joined out front by Lennert van Eetvelt (Lotto-Dstny).

However, a flurry of moves came out of the chase group and Majka and Van Eetvelt were reeled back within sight of the line, leaving Mojorič to outkick Almeida for victory.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) came in shortly afterward for third place.

Stage 1: Tim Merlier bosses big bunch sprint in Poznań

Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) won the opening stage and secured the first leader’s jersey of the Tour of Poland.

The Belgian speedster outsprinted Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) and Fernando Gaviria (Movistar) after a hectic final of Saturday’s stage into Poznań.

A series of crashes on rain-slicked roads in the final 10km saw a handful of riders come down, but all the main sprinters got through safely before the Quick-Step train delivered Merlier to his seventh win of the season.

The pan-flat stage into Poznań played largely per the script Saturday.

A break of four went away in the opening kilometers and was given a slim gap before they were reeled in by the sprinter teams surprisingly early, some 55km from the line.

Rain poured through the final hour of the race, perhaps putting a stopper on attacks as the complete peloton rolled toward the final sprint.

Crashes disrupted the extra high-speed finale into Poznań – but there was no stopping Merlier, who didn’t make the Belgian selection for road worlds.

The Polish tour resumes Sunday, where a tough hilltop finish in Karpacz could see the main GC shake-up of the race.

Pre-race contenders like Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), João Almeida (UAE Emirates), and Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) will be looking for early gains Sunday ahead of the series of hilly / sprinter stages that fall before the Tour’s second GC day, the stage 6 time trial.

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