Tim Wellens was perhaps the only rider who enjoyed the fifth stage of the Tour of Poland, as the Lotto Soudal rider won from a breakaway to move into the yellow jersey in cold, rainy weather which saw mass abandons from the WorldTour stage race.
In total, 85 riders abandoned the race during stage 5, with Michael Woods (Cannondale-Drapac) a non-starter, leaving the Polish National Team, ONE Pro Cycling, Etixx-QuickStep, Astana, Dimension Data and IAM Cycling with just two riders each.
"I don't know how many riders are still in the race but I think everybody suffered today and they say that tomorrow there will be a lot of rain again. Normally I like the rain, I like to race in it but today was really cold so, we will see how it is tomorrow; but I have a good advantage and we have a good team and we will do our best to keep the lead," Wellens said after taking his third win of the 2016 season.
While Wellens and Lotto Soudal celebrated a good day out in the rain, Etixx-QuickStep had a particularly tough day with six riders recording a DNF against their name, including two-time stage winner and race leader Fernando Gaviria, and Bob Jungels who crashed out while in the race winning breakaway.
"It's a real pity I had to call it a day, because I felt good and had strong legs. I was confident the break can go all the way and I can get a good result, but crashing on that downhill changed everything. Hopefully, I will make a fast recovery and be ready for the next races," Jungels said.
BMC Racing Team also saw several riders head home due to a variety of crashes and illness as team doctor Daniele Zaccaria explained.
"Manuel [Quinziato] suffered a right shoulder injury in the crash and he is going to fly to Madrid to undergo diagnostic testing on Monday. In the same crash [Danilo] Wyss suffered a small shoulder injury and [Loic] Velits also went down so they also eventually stopped racing. Vleigen was suffering from gastrointestinal issues during the race aggravated by the difficult weather conditions and it was also in his best interest to stop racing," Zaccaria said.
"For Manuel we will see what the outcome of the diagnostic tests are but if there is not any further news he will be able to continue with his current race schedule. The other riders will just need a couple days rest and they will also being to continue racing without any time off the bike.”
Orica-BikeExchange are one of several teams down to three riders after the challenging day but still have Simon Yates in the race. Yates, who is making his return to racing after a four-month ban for 'non-intentional' doping, finished the stage in 21st place, pleasing sports director Dave McPartland.
"The race was really solid for the first 100 kilometres. The guys worked really hard to try and get into the day's break. When they hit the circuit it was a really difficult entrance, hilly, narrow and the race split to pieces," said McPartland. "It dropped down to 10 degrees and continued to rain the whole day so it was really difficult for everyone.
"We lost some of the guys today which is disappointing but hats off to Simon, he made it into a small chasing group which got close to the leader at one point, just 30seconds behind then from there on it was a race of attrition.
Sunday's sixth stage will be shorted by one lap of the finishing circuit in Bukovina to 117km due to the continuing bad weather.
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