A day after Caleb Ewan sprinted to the win for Orica-Scott at the Tour de Pologne, lead out man Luka Mezgec took up the gauntlet on stage 5. The Slovenian national champion had already claimed one win in the wet this year and was aiming for a second in Rzeszow. However, Sky's Dany van Poppel pipped him at the line after opening up the sprint.
Mezgec, who hasn't won at WorldTour level since the 2014 Tour of Beijing, also recorded a second place finish at last year's Tour de Pologne. Having started the day with the plan to ride for Ewan, sport director Dave McPartland explained the team changed tactics with Mezgec becoming the protected rider.
"It was another really good result for us today, Luka came really close to winning the stage. The initial plan for the day was to sprint with Caleb Ewan. At first it was a bit of a disappointment not to have him there coming into the final but we had a really good option with Luka," McPartland said. "Despite the hard profile we thought that it may come down to a sprint today. Luka doesn't get that many opportunities to sprint for himself, but he's shown what great form his is in over the past month or so and he was really close to the victory today so we are really pleased."
Wet roads and technical finale ensured a nervous stage and it as no surprise there was a crash as the peloton wound up for the sprint. Of the GC riders, Tom-Jelte Slagter was the biggest loser as he dropped from fifth to 53rd while Orica-Scott's Adam Yates stayed safe and remains in eighth place overall ahead of the key mountain stages.
"All our GC guys had a good day and got through the stage well," McPartland added. "It can be dangerous having wet roads in the finish so we are happy that everyone finished safely and now we can look to the GC with hard stages still to come."
Stage 6, the penultimate day of racing at the Tour de Pologne, takes the peloton from Wieliczka Salt Mine to Zakopane over 189 km. Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan continues to lead the race head of BMC's Dylan Teuns.