Tour de Pologne: Taylor Phinney wins stage four after holding off sprint trains in thriller
Taylor Phinney claimed a magnificent solo victory on stage four of the Tour de Pologne.
Last Updated: 01/08/13 10:59am
The American BMC rider surged clear of the field with 7.9km to go in Katowice and could not be caught, despite the combined efforts of rivals teams in the peloton.
Steele von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) narrowly edged out Yauheni Hutarovich (Ag2r-La Mondiale) to take second place, while Britain's Ben Swift (Team Sky) had to settle for 12th.
Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) finished safely in the main bunch to retain his four-second lead in the general classification over Sergio Henao (Team Sky).
Phinney said afterwards: "I just put my head down and decided I wasn't going to look back and slowly commit to it and give it everything I had. I had a lot of power, but the last couple of kilometres were excruciatingly painful."
Stage four was the longest of the race, at 231.5km, and took the riders on an undulating route starting in Tarnow and finishing with four laps of a 12.3km circuit in Katowice.
Nine riders broke away and opened up a maximum gap of over four minutes, but their ranks were reduced to eight when Francis de Greef (Lotto-Belisol), just 6min 26sec down in the general classification, dropped away in order to relieve the pressure being exerted by the wary peloton.
As the gap fell to less than 1min 30sec heading into the final 30km, riders began to attack out of the breakaway, with first Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and then Kamil Gradek (Poland) both attempting to open up solo leads.
Sprinters fall short
Gradek made his attempt 22km out stick and he remained in the lead until 11km to go, but by now the sprint trains were forming and the pace of the peloton was too high for the Pole to resist after being at the head of the race all day.
There no such concerns for Phinney, who used a half-hearted attack from Valerio Agnoli (Astana) as a springboard for his own solo assault.
When he quickly opened up a 16-second advantage, several teams, including Garmin-Sharp and Team Sky, hit the front of the peloton is a desperate bid to close him down, but the American found final reserves of energy and hung on.
Stage four result
1 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC, 5:40:17
2 Steele von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp, same time
3 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
4 Aidis Kruopis (Gre) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
5 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Argos-Shimano, st
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC, st
7 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Argos-Shimano,
8 Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat,
9 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale, st
10 Daniel Schorn (Aut) NetApp-Endura, st
12 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, st
110 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, st
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo-Tinkoff, 21:55:02
2 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, +4secs
3 Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +6
4 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE, +7
5 Jon Izagirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi, same time
6 Chris Anker Sorensen (Den) Saxo-Tinkoff, +9
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +13
8 Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar, st
9 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard, +16
10 Thomas Rohregger (Aut) RadioShack-Leopard, +18
49 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +23:43
59 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, +31:26