Live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne, 223 kilometres from Nowy Sacz to Zakopane.
Today’s stage, the longest of the race, is certain to trigger a radical overhaul of the general classification at the Tour de Pologne. There are no fewer than eight category one climbs on the agenda, all of them coming on the tough finishing circuit around the ski resort of Zakopane. The peloton will tackle the climb of Glodowka twice and will take on the ascents of Zab and Gubalowka on three occasions before the finish in Zakopane.
90km remaining from 223km
As we pick up the action, a break of four riders have a lead of 2:20 over the peloton as they approach the summit of the Glodowka, the third of today's eight ascents. Edward Beltran (Tinkoff-Saxo), Vegard Breen, Boris Vallée (Lotto-Soudal) and Grega Bole (CCC Sprandi) are the survivors of the day's early break, which went clear in the opening kilometres.
88km remaining from 223km
Grega Bole is first over the top to augment his provisional lead in the king of the mountains classification. As the break begins the descent, their lead over the peloton drops below two minutes.
Beltran is the yellow jersey on the road. Like Breen and Bole, he trailed overall leader Kamil Zieliński (Poland) by 36 seconds at the start of today's stage. The general classification picture was as follows before the off:
1 Kamil Zielinski (Pol) Poland 15:06:27
2 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:03
3 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:22
4 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
5 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:24
6 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:28
7 Lorenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ.fr
8 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
9 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
10 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
Gianni Meersman of Etixx-QuickStep led the bunch over the climb to Głodówka. The men in black have been active in controlling affairs at the head of the peloton this afternoon, and one senses that world champion Michal Kwiatkowski is eager to pull out a big peformance on home roads.
79km remaining from 223km
The quartet of escapees are looping around towards the base of the climb of Zab, their second of three times tackling the ascent this afternoon. The peloton hovers at around two minutes behind.
The break's maximum advantage, incidentally, was 6:20, but it has steadily dropped since they entered the more rugged terrain of the foothills of the Tatra mountains. Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) and Sebastian Turgot (Ag2r-La Mondiale) were part of the move early on, but both have since dropped back - Boeckmans by his own volition, Turgot due to a mechanical problem.
74km remaining from 223km
The remaining Lotto Soudal pair of Breen and Vallée have been dropped from the break on the climb to Zab. Beltran and Bole forge on without them, but their advantage has dropped to just 1:06.
Bole leads Beltran over the summit of Zab, with the peloton just under a minute behind.
70km remaining from 223km
And once over the top, Beltran decides he will fare better without Bole's company. The Colombian attacks alone. He quickly opens a lead of 25 seconds over the flagging Bole, but the bunch is just 40 seconds behind.
67km remaining from 223km
Beltran maintains his solitary effort over the top of the day's fifth climb, the Gubalowka. He remains 40 seconds clear of the bunch as he crests the summit, but there is now a very determined delegation from Team Sky giving chase. Ian Boswell, Salvatore Puccio and Mikel Nieve sit in front of Sergio Henao on the climb.
Bole, meanwhile, has been swept up by the Sky-led peloton.
60km remaining from 223km
Beltran's show of resistance comes to an end. Sky's pace-setting brings the Colombian back to heel. With 60 kilometres and three category 1 climbs still to go, the race is all back together.
56km remaining from 223km
The bunch split under the force of Sky's pace-making on the last two climbs, and overall leader Kamil Zieliński (Poland) is among those to be dropped. He is in a group 3 minutes off the back, and, as expected, there will be a new yellow jersey this evening.
52km remaining from 223km
There are a few attempts to force a new break as the peloton enters Zakopane for the second time, at the start of the final lap of the finishing circuit.
48km remaining from 223km
Sky have relinquished their grip on the head of the peloton in recent kilometres. After Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) forces the pace through Zakopane, a loose grouping of 20 or so riders has a small lead over the peloton, but their efforts are by no means coordinated just yet.
45km remaining from 223km
No fewer than four Astana riders seize control at the head of the race and their efforts look set to provoke a more definitive split.
That Astana delegation was part of that initial 20-man group that began to take shape through Zakopane. That group has since swelled in number but it's still quite a select one. Fabio Aru and Dario Cataldo are safely on board, though it's not immediately clear if any of their overall rivals have missed out.
40km remaining from 223km
The front group is strung out in one long line thanks to the effects of Astana's forcing. There are perhaps 40 or so riders at the head of the race on the lower slopes of Glodowka.
36km remaining from 223km
There is still a decent representation from Sky towards the rear of this group, though world champion Michal Kwiatkowski appears to have missed out. Certainly, he is not positioned towards the head of the peloton, though television shots from further back have been sparing.
35km remaining from 223km
Sander Armée continues Lotto-Soudal's campaign of aggression by jumping out of the peloton towards the top of Glodowka. There is no immediate reaction from Astana and he opens a small gap.
33km remaining from 223km
Armée is pegged back gradually by the Astana platoon at the head of the front group, which is down to just 42 riders.
Astana continue to force the issue on the fast, sweeping descent off the Glodowka. Przemysław Niemiec, Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Mikel Nieve (Sky), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Robert Kiserlovski (Tinkoff-Saxo) are among the riders still in this front group.
There are two climbs left before the finish, the twin ascents of Zab and Gubalowka. The summit of the latter is a shade under 13 kilometres from the finish in Zakopane.
26km remaining from 223km
Astana's delegation continue to lay down a brisk pace at the front of the peloton on the approach to the base of the climb to Zab.
Diego Rosa takes up the reins for Astana on the slopes of the penultimate climb, with Paolo Tiralongo and Fabio Aru tucked in on his rear wheel.
22km remaining from 223km
Rosa's forcing has helped to whittle down this leading group still further. There are only 30 riders or so still in touch, and a number more are betraying real signs of suffering towards the rear.
20km remaining from 223km
Sergio Henao (Sky) attacks from the leading group towards the summit of Zab and opens a small gap. Astana's quarter of leaders make no immediate response and maintain their current pace.
20km remaining from 223km
Henao is pegged back just before the summit of the climb as his effort fizzles out, though Astana look to have lost Tiralongo from their cluster at the front.
There's a short, fast descent to come before this dwindling leading group reaches the final ascent of Gubalowka.
16km remaining from 223km
Fabio Aru rides on the front of the leading group at the base of the final climb. His teammate Alexey Lutsenko is just behind him, while his contemporary and fellow countryman Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) is also moving up.
16km remaining from 223km
Aru continues to set a brisk tempo, with Formolo on his wheel. He glances intermittently over his shoulder to check on Lutsenko's position.
15km remaining from 223km
Aru's cameo has stretched this group to breaking point. A number of riders, including Darwin Atapuma (BMC) have lost contact thanks to the Sardinian's show of force.
14km remaining from 223km
As the shadows lengthen over the Tatra mountains, Aru has reduced the front group to just 15 riders or so. His teammate Lutsenko - surely a contender in the event of a group sprint - has been dropped, however.
Diego Ulissi is struggling to hang on to the Aru-led group, which also includes Davide Rebellin (CCC-Sprandi), Sergio Henao and Mikel Nieve (Sky).
13km remaining from 223km
Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) takes a flyer shortly after Sky take up the reins of the leading group. Fabio Aru gives chase immediately.
Aru bridges to Formolo. The two Italian youngsters have opened out a small margin as they approach the summit of the final climb.
The combined efforts of Sergio Henao, Rebellin and Ben Hermans (BMC) help to peg back the Aru-Formolo tandem near the top.
12km remaining from 223km
Henao leads over the summit but as soon as the road starts to drop, Formolo takes over on the front once again. And, not surprisingly, Aru is immediately across to his wheel.
Formolo has a small lead on the descent, with Aru just behind him. They are followed by the remants of the leading group, perhaps a dozen riders, including Henao and Rebellin.
9km remaining from 223km
Formolo, Aru, Rebellin, Henao and Hermans are together at the front of the race, with a fragmented chase just a handful of seconds behind them.
8km remaining from 223km
Sebastian Reichenbach, Mikel Nieve and Diego Ulissi are among the riders to claw their way back up to the leaders on the descent. There are ten riders together at the front.
8km remaining from 223km
Mikel Nieve seizes his opportunity and attacks on the descent, with no immediate response. The Sky opens up a decent gap.
6km remaining from 223km
Reichenbach bridges across to Nieve, with Aru, Hermans and Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale). This quintet has a lead of a few seconds over a group featuring Formolo, Moreno Moser and Davide Rebellin.
5km remaining from 223km
The road flattens out slightly and there is a generally regrouping, as the Formolo-Moser group merges with the Aru-Nieve move.
5km remaining from 223km
Bart De Clerq (Lotto Soudal), on the back foot for the whole descent has clawed his way back up to the front. There is a brief lull following the general regrouping in front, and the Belgian fires off a smart attack.
4km remaining from 223km
De Clerq might just have got his timing right. The Belgian has opened a decent gap and there's a lot of indecision in the group behind as more riders battle their way back on.
3km remaining from 223km
Bart De Clerq leads into the final three kilometres. A group of ten gives chase behind him, featuring Aru, Formolo, Ulissi, Moser, Zakarin, Rebellin, Henao and Nieve.
2km remaining from 223km
Formolo puts in a long turn on the front in support of Moreno Moser, but there's little cohesion in this chase group.
1km remaining from 223km
The road climbs once again towards the finish in Zakopane. Reichenbach shoots out of the chase group in solo pursuit.
1km remaining from 223km
De Clerq leads into the final kilometre. Reichenbach and Diego Ulissi are within sight of him. Mikel Nieve leads the rest of the chasers a little further back.
Ulissi and Reichenbach can't find common cause as they sweep across the road rather than collaborate smoothly. De Clerq is poised to take the win...
Diego Ulissi starts his sprint from distance in a desperate bid to reel in De Clerq but it's surely too late...
Bart De Clerq (Lotto-Soudal) wins stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne.
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) out-paces Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling) to claim second place on the stage.
The select Aru-Formolo group comes in just behind Ulissi and Reichenbach. De Clerq's stage win and time bonus will lift him into the yellow jersey of race leader.
1 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal 5:48:49
2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:03
3 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:04
4 Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:07
5 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:00:07
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:07
8 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:07
9 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:07
10 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:07
General classification after stage 5:
1 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal 20:55:42
2 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:00:04
3 Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:06
4 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
5 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:09
6 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:09
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
8 Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:16
9 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:17
10 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:17
Thanks for joining our live coverage this afternoon. A full report, results and pictures will be available here. We'll be back with more tomorrow as the Tour de Pologne heads for its toughest stage to Bukowina Tatrzańska. In the meantime, stay tuned to Cyclingnews for all of the news and reaction from Poland.
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