Tour de Pologne 2021 – Stage 2 Preview

By David Hunter

Zamość > Przemyśl 201km

I love the look of this finish.

We have another stage that is over 200km and this one has quite a lot of climbing crammed into the final 40km. The finish is too hard for the sprinters, this is one for the puncheurs.

Weather

A pleasant day with cloudy sun and temperatures around 25 degrees.

Key Points

This climb will start the finale of the race. It’s a cat 2 effort and is 2km at 9.5%, quite a tough little kicker. The crest comes with 29km to go, then a fast descent straight into the next climb.

This is another cat 2 climb, but this time it’s only 2.5km at 6.7%. From the top we have 23km to go, too far out for an attack on the climb to stick.

The left turn is the entrance to the final climb, it is very narrow. As usual we’ll see a massive fight to be at the front of the bunch for this turn, only those in the first 10-20 positions will be fighting for the win. This is where having a strong team is so important.

The climb is split into two parts, both are horribly steep. Once through the left turn the road immediately kicks up to 10%, but this initial ramp doesn’t last long, although it is cobbled. Then we have a short and fast descent into another tight turn and then the real climb can begin. This section is 800m at 11%, but it gets up to a maximum of 16%, it is very steep. With 200m to go the riders swing left and the finishing straight is slightly downhill.

Tactics

You need to be at the front for the final climb, it’s as simple (or not) as that. The three climbs that come in quick succession just a little earlier will be used to slim down the peloton, but it’s very unlikely we’ll see the winning move go there. I doubt we’ll see any fancy tactics in this stage, it’s all about getting a good position for the final climb and letting the legs do the talking.

Please note that the organisers have declared this a sprint stage which means gaps on the line will need to be 3 seconds to be registered as an official time gap, which makes it much harder to see any gaps between the top riders.

Contenders

Michał Kwiatkowski – the final climb reminds me of his stage win in Szczyrk back in 2018, it’s one that suits him well. Ineos will likely have lots of riders left in the bunch to help position him for the final climb, so he’ll have a great chance of challenging for the win. He looked good in the Tour de France, and impressed in Tokyo, this is a big chance for him to win on home soil.

Dylan Teuns – he’s also a previous winner in Szczyrk, back in 2017. The Belgian is a specialist in this type of finish, the steeper the better for him. He’s not raced since the Tour de France, so we’ll have to wait and see how his legs respond in this stage. If he’s on a good day, he’ll be one of the men to beat.

João Almeida – I wouldn’t say the finish is perfect for him, he’s more a mountain climber than puncheur in my opinion, but if he gets a good position for the climb he could surprise.

Mikkel Honoré – the finish suits the Dane more than his teammate. We’ve seen in the past year he copes well with steep slopes and has a fast finish too. Unusually we might see Deceuninck – Quick Step not have many riders left in the bunch for the finale, the three climbs in quick succession will likely wipe out most of their squad. This means Honoré and Almeida might find positioning a little hard for the final climb.

Diego Ulissi – his current form is good, but I wonder when he’s going to start feeling tired as he’s not had much of a rest since the Giro. He’s another who’ll like the look of the finish, but he might struggle for position due to a lack of teammates.

Alessandro Covi – one teammate who should be around is Covi, but he’ll also want to chase stage glory. The Italian rode a brilliant Giro, and his recent races have also been impressive. He’s not one of the big favourites, but he could surprise.

Matej Mohorič – to win this stage he’ll need to go long, but that seems to suit him just fine. He sprinted for bonus seconds today, he’s keen on trying to win this race.

Tim Wellens – this is a great finish for him. He should have some teammates to help position him for the final climb and then we’ll see if he’s fully recovered from his recent issues. He looked okay in Tour de Wallonie and I expect him to be better here.

Ben Tulett – just 19, but the young English has enjoyed his first season at this level. His standout result was 12th in Flèche Wallonne, something that must be remembered in this stage. This is his first race back after a break, I hope his current condition is good enough to fight for the win.

George Bennett – he came very close to winning a stage in the Giro but left the race a little disappointed. His current form is unknown, but if he’s good this is a stage he can win.

Prediction Time

The winner of the stage will have a good position at the foot of the final climb, so which teams are strong enough to do this? Ineos look the strongest to me, I’ll take a win for Michał Kwiatkowski.

David Hunter

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