Stage three of the Tour of Poland to Bialystok marked yet another successful comeback to Polish roads. Italian Angelo Furlan (Crédit Agricole) was the fastest today, seven years after his stage win in Koszalin in 2001.
He beat Brazilian Lucian Pagliarini (Scott) and yesterday's winner Allan Davis (Quick Step) on the line. Thanks to a four-second time bonus the Australian took the overall lead from overnight leader Murilo Fischer (Liquigas).
The third stage of the race took the peloton from Mikolajki in the Mazury region, to Bialystok, capital of the Podlasie region in the north-east corner of Poland.
Soon after the start three riders emerged from the pack. Just like yesterday these were riders from the Polish National Team-BGZ, Lampre and Euskaltel. Although this time it was Polish road race champion Marcin Sapa, Spaniard Aitor Hernandez and the current star of Polish cycling, Sylvester Szmyd.
As one could expect the peloton wasn't initially interested in a chase. Despite bad weather, with occasional rain and a headwind, Sapa, Szmyd and Hernandez began their long journey to Bialystok with some vigour. The first intermediate sprint in Orzysz after 27km was won by Sapa while at the second intermediate sprint in Elk (61km) Hernandez took the points.
The trio steadily gained time on the peloton and in the feeding zone after 100km they had nearly 10 minutes advantage on the bunch. Then the peloton began its work. Meanwhile, Sapa won the third intermediate sprint in Mlonki.
With 60 kilometres to go the leading triplet had just seven minutes lead on the peloton. They reached the finishing lap in Bialystok with a two-minute gap on the bunch, allowing them to fight for the mountain primes on the first and second rounds of the circuit. Szmyd took the first, Sapa the second.
But in all there were three laps of 6.5 kilometres to be covered, giving the peloton time to organise an effective chase. On the last lap the bulk of work was done by Liquigas and Quick-Step; with five kilometres to go Liquigas had finally caught the breakaway riders. Over the last kilometre no coherent train appeared on the front and in the chaotic sprint Furlan came out the fastest ahead of Pagliarini and Davis. Overnight leader Fischer was only sixth, while best Polish rider on the day, Krzysztof Jezowski, was eighth.