The Lotto Soudal team have opted to continue in the Tour de Pologne’s remaining three stages following the death of their rider Bjorg Lambrecht on Monday during the race.
Racing on stage 4 of the Tour de Pologne was neutralised, with the six remaining Lotto Soudal riders leading the peloton along the race route in homage to their teammate.
The team had said on Twitter late on Tuesday that the six riders had a free choice in the matter, and that while most of them had indicated that they wanted to continue, the final decisions would come on Wednesday morning.
Around midday on Wednesday, the Lotto-Soudal bus parked in the area assigned to teams at the start in the town of Wieliczka in southern Poland, with mechanics and other staff carrying out the usual final race preparations.
In contrast with Tuesday’s sombre start, Wednesday’s countdown to the stage start was marked by the usual ceremonies, with large crowds, many of them tourists, visiting the town’s series of underground salt mines ahead of the race.
As on any other normal stage, the six Lotto Soudal riders pedalled the 500 metres from their bus to the signing-on podium. They then blended into the remainder of the peloton waiting to begin racing the first of the three remaining stages.
Stage 5 from Wieliczka to Bielsko-Biala is a hilly 154km stage with more than 2,000 metres of vertical climbing and is likely to end in a small group bunch sprint on a draggy, rising finale.
The last part of the stage is identical to last year, which was won by local star Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos) who went on to take the overall classification. Current weather conditions are humid and overcast, with heavy showers forecast for later in the day.
Lotto Soudal’s Jelle Wallays was among the first attackers when the flag dropped, and the Belgian joined Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk), Szymon Rekita (Poland) and Kamil Gradek (CCC Team) in the early break on the road to Bielsko-Biala.