Silence-Lotto's Jürgen Roelandts continued the Belgian theme at the Tour de Pologne with victory in stage five. The sprint was contested among a 12-rider group that got away from the bunch on the streets of Rzeszów. Second on the line was Spain's Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) who became the new race leader due to Allan Davis finishing 12 seconds later in the peloton.
After yesterday's riders' protest, race director Czeslaw Lang agreed with directeurs sportive that in case of the rain in Rzeszów there would be only one lap through the city.
As planned the start was held in Naleczow, and after few initial unsuccessful attempts, finally a breakaway of five riders was formed with omnipresent Marcin Sapa (Polska-BGZ) yet again in the thick of the action. This time he was joined by Denis Flahaut (Scott-American Beef), Marco Bandiera (Lampre), Alexandre Pliuschin (Ag2R La Mondiale) and Pierriq Quemeneur (Bouygues Telecom). Flahaut won two intermediate sprints held in Krasnik and Bilgoraj, while Sapa was second on both occasions, giving him the lead in this competition
The leading quintet gained a maximum lead of some 10'30", 130 kilometres into the race. This motivated the big bunch into action and it began the chase. At Lezajsk the breakaway had just five minutes' advantage on the pack. In the same town Bandiera won his mountain prime, with Sapa again second. In the meantime Flahaut could no longer stand the pace of the others and after a while was caught be the charging peloton.
The remaining four persisted with their attack, picking up more sprint and mountain points until they were finally reeled in on the suburbs of Rzeszów thanks to some tough work done by Quick Step. This instigated a series of counter moves, starting with Steven de Jongh's dig. He was soon joined by Luca Barla (Milram), Lars Yitting Bak (CSC Saxo Bank), Alexandre Kuchinski (Liquigas Gaspol), Markus Burghardt (Team Columbia) and Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre). Due to the heavy rain it was decided that the plan devised earlier in the day would be enacted and the stage finished earlier.
Six men at the front were joined in the last couple of kilometres by another sextet comprising Jürgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto), Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne), Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner), Gregory Rast (Astana), Bram De Groot (Rabobank) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d'Epargne). That brought the number of riders to 12, and they held a small advantage over the peloton. Sadly for home fans, no Polish riders made the final cut.
The final dash to the line was initiated by de Jongh, but Roelandts easily came past him in the last 100 metres with Rojas glued to Belgian's back wheel. De Jongh had to be satisfied with third place. Davis lost the leader's jersey despite winning the sprint from the bunch and with that kept the lead in the points competition. Bandiera is the new leader in the mountains competition.
Tomorrow ses riders take on the toughest stage of the race, the only one with some real climbing. Riders will have to cover 202km from Krynica to Zakopane with six climbs on the way.