An impressively strong climbing performance in the Tour de Pologne on its first uphill finish by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has placed the Slovak back in the lead and underlined his status as a top favourite for the outright victory.
No matter how many riders were shed on each the ferocious series of steady climbs through the hills of southern Poland on Monday's stage, Sagan's figure was constantly popping in and out of the TV cameras' field of vision, always sitting somewhere between 10th and 15th place behind the lead rider. Whilst BMC Racing Team, Sky and Katusha-Alpecin were far more active close to the front, Sagan was clearly waiting for his moment to come.
The searing two-headed attack by Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing Team) during the crunch moments of the final ascent seemed to have foiled any plans Sagan might have of winning. Instead, as Yates faded, Sagan began a relentless late acceleration through the flailing survivors in the front group, finally rising all the way to second behind stage winner Teuns.
A second stage win was not possible, but for now, Sagan is back in the lead. "Today was much harder than I expected," Sagan told reporters afterwards "and in the end, our tactic was if I could get over the four classified climbs I would try to go for the win."
"We decided in the last climb we would see if [teammate] Rafal Majka would be better than me or the other way round, so we tried to go for the stage win. But afterwards we slipped a little bit in the last 400 metres, the guy from BMC [Teuns] just got away from us.
"We almost got him, but the finish came too soon. It's very important, though, to get the yellow jersey back. We'll take it day by day but for sure we'll go for GC with Rafal."
Sagan insists then, that he is not the outright leader for Bora-Hansgrohe in Pologne, with 2014 outright winner Majka, third on the line and third overall, having that honour.
However, Sagan's win on stage one in Krakow makes him a clear favourite in the bunch sprints, and any more top three positions in the one or possibly two sprint stages remaining should net him some more bonus seconds - invaluable in a race which will likely be decided by very small time margins.
Furthermore, Sagan also won the hilly stage to Zakopane in 2011 - a finish which repeats on stage 6 this year. And if that was not ample proof of his pedigree on the short, punchy ascents that litter the Tour of Pologne, Monday's performance speaks for itself.
Whether Majka can now come to the fore remains to be seen, but with two riders in the top three and the overall lead, Bora-Hansgrohe certainly have two very valuable cards to play.