A cleanly-delivered sprint for the line by Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) netted the German his second career win in the Tour de Pologne on Thursday, although Bauhaus undoubtedly made a significant down payment on that triumph by getting through a dramatic last kilometre crash unscathed.
While the mass pileup undoubtedly wrecked many sprinters’ chances of battling for victory, Bauhaus and his lead-out man Jonathan Milan were both ahead of the point in the peloton where the crash happened, while Bauhaus’ second place early in a sprint as tricky and demanding as Lublin already pointed to his solid form.
That form was further confirmed on stage 5’s reduced battle for the line, where Bauhaus saw off racers of the calibre of Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Nikias Arndt (Team DSM).
“I felt really good at the beginning, unfortunately there was a big crash in the last corner, a lot of guys went down and I’m really sorry for them. I could just avoid it,” Bauhaus said afterwards.
The mass pile-up took place at high speed where the road narrowed briefly and almost simultaneously swung right, blocking many riders behind. The full extent of any injuries sustained by riders who crashed has yet to emerge and did not appear on the first official medical bulletin.
As Cyclingnews ascertained from Cofidis' management, the stage’s only DNF, their Italian rider Simone Consonni, left the race well before the crash happened because he was ill and all other riders completed the course.
In purely sporting terms, the crash left sprinters of the calibre of Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) without options.
While Pologne is Bahrain Victorious' first WorldTour win since Steve Williams took a victory in the Tour de Suisse nearly two months ago, Bauhaus triumph in Pologne is his second in as many years, after he won the opening stage in 2021.
“I like racing here, I don’t know if it’s lucky that I’m in great condition,” he said. "To win is not only a question of luck, you also need the legs and also a great team for the sprint.
“I’m in one of the best teams in the world, and we proved together we can win a lot of races. Johnny [Jonathan Milan] did a great lead out for me in the last 200 metres. And then I also had the legs so I’m really happy."
Bauhaus is looking forward to the final stage in Krakow. He pointed out that Bahrain Victorious have serious options on victory, with Pello Bilbao in second place overall.
“We hope he can fight the yellow jersey because he’s a super good time triallist,” Bauhaus said. “Then obviously on the last day, which is also a flat finish, we’re hoping for another bunch sprint and another great result.”
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.