Tour de Pologne 2021 – Stage 1 Preview

By David Hunter

Lublin > Chelm 218km

The race begins with a very long sprint stage.

It’s quite unusual these days to have stages of more than 200km in a one-week stage race, the Tour of Poland starts with three of them. With around 1800m of climbing, this is one for the fast men, but the finish will interest some of the puncheurs.

Finale

The final 600m averages around 4%, but we also have some tasty looking cobbles. The riders climb this on two occasions, the first crests with just 7km to go, which will give the bunch a great look at the climb before they take it on at the finish. The cobbles look nastier than your normal city centre street, they’ll be hard to negotiate, especially if wet.

Weather

The current forecast is for cloudy sun, but there is a risk of rain.

Tactics

If the rain does come it increases the chances for the break but given how many top sprinters we have at this race it should still end in a sprint. Some riders will attack the first time through the finishing line, but they’ll get caught and we’ll get a big sprint.

Contenders

David Dekker – he’s back and ready to fly in the second half of the season. He started off the season in fine form, then moved into a domestique role for the Giro, where he managed to complete 13 stages. With that race in the legs, I’m looking forward to seeing him challenging for his first pro win in the coming weeks. Jumbo-Visma come here with a strong team, they’ll expect to control the final kilometres allowing Dekker to launch his sprint from the front. The cobbled finish is very good for the Dutchman, this is a good chance to get a win.

Phil Bauhaus – the big German has enjoyed a very successful season, he really needed it after a couple of poor years. He’ll be full of confidence, a valuable commodity for a sprinter, and his lead out train is good. He should be challenging for the win.

Pascal Ackermann – his season has been a slow burner, but he’s certainly caught fire now. He was disappointed not to be selected for the Tour, but he responded in the right manner by winning two stages of the Sibiu Tour and three stages in Settimana Ciclistica Italiana. With confidence flowing he’ll be a different man for the rest of the year. He’ll like the finish, it’s relatively similar to the final stage of the Sibiu Tour, a stage he’s won on two occasions.

Álvaro Hodeg – another rider who recently won and should be full of confidence, but I don’t think the uphill finish is ideal for him.

John Degenkolb – hasn’t won yet this year, but he’ll like the look of this one. As a former winner of Paris-Roubaix he’ll be happy to see some cobbles, but I’m slightly worried about his sprint train.

Jake Stewart – another rider who’ll be happy with this finish. He couldn’t properly challenge for a win in the Tour de Wallonie, but that was due to a lack of teammates at the end of the stages. We have some strong sprint trains at this race, Groupama – FDJ need to step up.

Iván García – the Spaniard loves an uphill finish. At times he’s looked strong this year, but that’s not been reflected in his results. If he can get into a good position, he has the seated power required to win this one, and he doesn’t mind the rain either.

Edward Theuns – a cobbled climb and some rain, perfect for the Belgian. Just like the others who haven’t raced since the Tour there’s no guarantee how the legs will perform in this stage, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Fernando Gaviria – he really could do with a win. I’m told he’ll be staying with UAE, but not on the same salary as before. The team have shown faith in him, it’s time for him to deliver on his undoubted talent.

Prediction Time

A first pro win for David Dekker.

David Hunter

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