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Tour de Pologne: Yates tests Kwiatkowski with stunning late breakaway and stage win

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Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)
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Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) won the final stage

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) won the final stage (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)
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Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)

Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)
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Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) finished sixth

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) finished sixth (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images Sport)

The dead silence that fell in the Tour de Pologne's miniscule pressroom as Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) blasted clear ten kilometres from the line on stage 7 said it all as the Briton came far closer than the home media liked to snatching away overall victory from Michal Kwiatkowski.

Finally, Kwiatkowski, sixth on the line, held onto the overall victory after losing 12 seconds to Yates, who soloed to the stage win, and the Polish media could breathe a collective sigh of relief.

But the last-minute near-upset not only allowed Yates to challenge for GC and propelled him into second overall, it also confirms his steadily rising form for the upcoming Vuelta a España and beyond that, the UCI Road World Championships.

17th at Szczyrk, sixth at Bielo-Bielska, and then fourth on stage 6, stage 7 was Yates' first win since the Giro stage to Sappada, and as the Briton said, it almost felt like an extra birthday present - he turned 26 on Tuesday - albeit "a few days too late."

"It was a fantastic victory, I went at the right moment, got a good gap, and rode full gas to finish," Yates recounted to reporters as the heavens opened and rain thundered down on the media tent at the finish.

"I was getting better every day, although these are very short stages, so it's hard to really judge my form, but I'm happy to be here."

As for going for GC, Yates argued that his chances of actually toppling Kwiatkowski were slim, given "I spent a lot of energy to get the gap, so I'm happy with what I've got.

"On the radio they told me to keep going to the line, telling me the time gaps, and not to look over my shoulder, which is very difficult when at the limit. So there was not much thinking, just going full gas."

Indeed, Yates' solo bid on the rolling roads leading uphill to the finish in Bukowina bodes well for Spain and Austria in September. But after his rollercoaster Giro d'Italia, he was cautious about his chances in the upcoming Vuelta, although hopeful he could avoid the exhaustion that struck at the end of the final week and effectively cost him the Italian Grand Tour.

"I'm doing a very different preparation because I have one eye on the Worlds, so that's very different to the Giro. If I can't do the GC, it's no worries," Yates reasoned.

A final spell at altitude now awaits Yates before the Vuelta a España's start in Malaga on August 25th. But the omens from Poland for the Briton could hardly be better.

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 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. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.