The Tour of Poland has seen significant changes to its parcour this year, a move that could well encourage more attacking racing. Back in comes a time trial, as does some very long days in the saddle. On paper, it looks like just one GC day, but the opportunities are there for the main contenders to push on multiple days. This marks the beginning of the final third of the season, with most here racing for the first time in a couple of months. This race is important, but most will see it as a way of getting racing in the legs ahead of what’s still to come in the year.
The race begins with a very long sprint stage. We have several fast men here; the break shouldn’t stand a chance.
Another long sprint stage.
238km! The finish is the same one used last year in Przemysl where Almeida took the finish. The steep climb up to the line will have a significant impact on the battle for the overall title.
One of the stages that could end up being a GC day, it all depends on how the bunch want to ride it. The final climb is unclassified but as its 4.7km at 6%, it’s hard enough to cause some damage.
Another lumpy day in the Polish countryside, with lots of unclassified kickers to test the peloton. It might only have 2500m of climbing, but this could be another chance for the GC riders to make a difference.
An uphill time trial in Bukowina, one that will be decisive in the fight for yellow. The climb isn’t that hard, those who go well on their TT bike and climb a bit will sense a chance of taking the win.
It’s a weird looking stage, with the climbs front loaded. This could see attacks from GC riders and a crazy type of day, but it could be a day for the breakaway.
Ineos – it looks like another weeklong stage race that Ineos are going to boss. The fact that Carapaz is here and isn’t team leader tells you everything you need to know. Due to the TT being hugely influential in terms of the GC race, I would expect Ethan Hayter to be their star man, but Ben Tulett would be a good back-up. Hayter has enjoyed a good year so far, but I sense the best is yet to come, starting with his first world tour GC win.
Thymen Arensman – due to his ability on the TT bike, he must start as one of the big favourites for this race. He is also an excellent climber, so shouldn’t lose too much time in the uphill finish. This year he completed the Giro, the first time he’s done a grand tour at that point in the season. How the legs then respond is anyone’s guess, he could well find himself needing some races before he gets to his top level. However, he could hit the ground running and already be close to his best.
Matteo Sobrero – he ended the Giro by taking a brilliant win in the TT, he’ll be one of the favourites to win the TT in this race. That should put him into a strong position on GC, but it all depends on how he goes in the uphill finish. I’ve seen him climb well on steep gradients before, and a good result would certainly help the team in their fight against relegation.
Pello Bilbao – the Basque rider has enjoyed a very consistent season, 5th in the Giro was an excellent result for him. Like a lot of the Giro riders, this is his first race back, so he’ll likely be a little rusty. The uphill finish and TT are good stages for him, but we’ll have to wait and see how his legs respond to racing.
Sergio Higuita – the little Colombian won in Catalunya and was 2nd in Tour de Suisse, it’s been a great season for him. Importantly for him, he’s not raced a grand tour yet this season, so he should be fresher than a lot of his rivals in this race. Despite being good on his TT bike, he’ll likely lose time to some of his main GC rivals in that stage, so he needs to make it up in the uphill finish and maybe sprinting for bonus seconds throughout the week. I would be very surprised if he didn’t finish in the top 5.
Mauro Schmid – good on his TT bike and has the punch for the uphill finish, this should be a good race for the Swiss rider. After the Giro he won the Belgium Tour, so he’ll approach this race with confidence. I think a top 10 result is realistic, maybe top 5 if he’s got his best legs.
Given the strength of their team, I can’t see anything other than a win for Ethan Hayter.