The peloton has assembled on Krakow's market square for the opening stage of the 2019 Tour de Pologne, a 132km leg that should favour the fast men. The route brings the bunch on a circuitous route in the hinterland of Krakow before returning to the city for three laps of a 4km finishing circuit. There are three classified climbs on the route - Lanckorona, Witanowice and Kaszów - but the sprinters' teams will be hopeful they can keep things under control ahead of the finale.
The stage gets underway at 15:30 CET. Our man in Poland is Aladasdair Fotheringham, and he reports that there has been intermittent but very heavy rain through the morning in Krakow. Although the rain abated before the start, more is forecast through the afternoon.
Mark Cavendish makes his Tour de Pologne debut this afternoon in the colours of Dimension Data. The Manxman missed the Tour de France for the first time in his professional career this season. His first race since learning of his omission was the Adriatica Ionica Race, where he abandoned on stage 2. He is set to line out for Great Britain at the forthcoming European Championships in Alkmaar.
130km remaining from 136km
After a rapid start to proceedings, a break of three riders has opened a 40-second lead over the peloton: Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk) and the Polish national team duo of Jakub Kaczmarek and Adrian Kurek.
128km remaining from 136km
It looks as though the stage has quickly settled into a discernible pattern. The pace abates in the peloton, and the three escapees extend their lead to two minutes.
125km remaining from 136km
The leading trio have nudged their buffer out towards three minutes over a peloton that seems content to allow them some early leeway.
Away from the Tour de Pologne, Chris Froome has stated that his overriding target during his recovery from injury is to be on the start line of the 2020 Tour de France. The Briton made his first extended comments about the crash that ruled him out of this year's Tour in a video released by his Ineos team this morning. Read more here.
Today's stage marks Fernando Gaviria's first competitive action since he was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia with a knee injury on the road to L'Aquila on stage 7. "Getting my knee back into shape hasn't been straightforward," Gaviria told Cyclingnews. "One of my tendons was inflamed and my kneecap hurt a lot as a result." Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.
110km remaining from 136km
Planet, Kurek and Kaczmarek now have a lead of 3:10 over the peloton.
Maciej Bodnar of Bora-Hansgrohe sets the tempo in the peloton, 3:30 behind the break. Pascal Ackermann won the corresponding stage a year ago and the German is back in action today for the first time since the Tour of Slovenia in June. Ackermann has enjoyed a fine 2019 season to date, winning two stages and the points classification at the Giro d'Italia.
102km remaining from 136km
Disappointment for Adrian Kurek (Poland), who led through the first intermediate sprint but then crashed shortly afterwards. The Pole remounted and gave chase, but is some two minutes down on his erstwhile companions, Jakub Kaczmarek (Poland) and Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk).
98km remaining from 136km
Into the final 100 kilometres for Planet and Kaczmarek, who are riding under a steady drizzle on rain-soaked roads.
The unfortunate Kurek has been reabsorbed by the peloton, where Bodnar is still setting the pace behind the escapees.
Deceuninck-QuickStep are also contributing to the pace-making at the head of the peloton, with Fabio Jakobsen's finishing speed in mind. At the Clasica San Sebastian, meanwhile, Deceuninck's Julian Alaphilippe was an early abandon, fatigued from his efforts on the Tour de France. There are still 50km or so remaining in the Basque Country.
95km remaining from 136km
The live television feed shows a replay of Kurek's crash. The Pole's wheels slipped from under him on a slippery stretch of cobbles shortly after the day's first intermediate sprint.
93km remaining from 136km
There is no particular urgency in the peloton for the time being, but the break's advantage has been reined in slightly. It now stands at 2:40 as the rain temporarily abates over the Tour de Pologne.
A reminder that our two escapees are Jakub Kaczmarek (Poland) and Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk). The 25-year-old Kaczmarek raced for CCC earlier in his career but has spent the past two seasons at Continental level with Hurom. Planet has been with Novo Nordisk since 2014 and has built a reputation for his willingness to go on the offensive.
Their former companion Kurek, meanwhile, is at the rear of the peloton, his torn shorts and scuffed jersey telling the story of his afternoon. He winces and waves as the television motorbike draws up alongside him.
89km remaining from 136km
Kaczmarek and Planet stick resolutely to their task in front, albeit now with a reduced buffer of 2:34.
UAE Team Emirates have joined Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe's task force at the head of the peloton. There is a strong coalition of sprint teams controlling affairs here, and it is hard to imagine that the escapees can deny the fast men in Krakow this afternoon.
87km remaining from 136km
Planet and Kaczmarek are back on rain-soaked roads as they contest the mountains point on offer at Lanckorona. The Frenchman easily wins the sprint at the top then waits for Kaczmarek over the other side.
Away from the Tour de Pologne, Brandon McNulty will move up to WorldTour level in 2020 after signing a three-year contract with UAE Team Emirates. The American has enjoyed steady progress with Rally since becoming junior time trial world champion in 2016, culminating with victory at the Giro di Sicilia earlier this season. Read more here.
80km remaining from 136km
50 miles remaining for Planet and Kaczmarek as they receive hearty applause on passing through Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. 2:27 is their lead over the peloton, where Deceuninck-QuickStep are massed towards the front.
Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe), meanwhile, is the man performing the bulk of the heavy lifting in the peloton for the time being.
74km remaining from 136km
Manuele Mori puts in a long turn on the front of the peloton for UAE Team Emirates. 2:12 the gap to the two escapees.
70km remaining from 136km
The break's lead continues to drop steadily under the weight of the sprint teams' combined pursuit. The gap is down to just 1:34.
65km remaining from 136km
Into Wadowice and the midpoint of the stage for the two leaders, whose gap over the peloton has stabilised at 1:30 or so.
Earlier today, Lucy Kennedy won the inaugural women's Clasica San Sebastian. There are a little over 10km to go in the men's race, where a precocious talent is delivering another remarkable performance.
60km remaining from 136km
The two leaders approach the base of the day's second climb, the category 4 Witanowice, with a lead of 1:29 over the peloton.
58km remaining from 136km
Kaczmarek and Planet know they won't go the distance this afternoon, and they happily fritter away 15 seconds or so of their lead as they mark one another ahead of the KoM sprint. Planet produces another strong effort to claim the mountain point at the top. 2-0 to the Frenchman thus far. 1:15 the gap to the peloton.
The television moto draws alongside the race director's car for a long, lingering shot of Czeslaw Lang. It's been that kind of stage, despite the commendable efforts of Planet and Jakub Kaczmarek.
54km remaining from 136km
Kaczmarek and Planet have nudged their lead back out to 1:35 as the peloton relents its pace a notch or two.
The break's lead stretches out to 1:40 as the peloton slows through the feed zone in Ryczow.
The Clasica San Sebastian has just finished, and a full report and results will be available here.
46km remaining from 136km
Back in the hinterland of Krakow, the two escapees have a lead of 1:50 over the peloton, which is back on dry roads for the time being, though the sky is charcoal with menace above them.
42km remaining from 136km
Planet and Kaczmarek are a little over 10km from the day's third classified climb, though Planet is already assured of wearing the king of the mountains jersey tomorrow after he claimed the first two summits.
40km remaining from 136km
The average speed after two hours of racing, incidentally, was 41kph. The two leaders carry a buffer of 1:40 into the final 40km of action this afternoon. There are three laps of a 4km finishing circuit to be tackled on reaching Krakow.
The sun is now beginning to poke through the clouds as UAE, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-QuickStep continue to lead the pursuit at the head of the peloton.
35km remaining from 136km
The break's lead drops to 1:09 as the pace gradually begins to ratchet upwards in the peloton.
33km remaining from 136km
Planet completes a hat-trick of category 4 climbs as he beats Kaczmarek to the summit at Kaszow.
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The sprint teams will be reluctant to peg back the two escapees too soon, and they have allowed the gap to inch out a little more to 1:28.
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Barring another late change in the conditions, the peloton will have dry roads when they hit the finishing circuit in Krakow. Deceuninck-QuickStep are currently winding up the pace in the main peloton, 1:20 behind the leaders.
26km remaining from 136km
Bora-Hansgrohe are also at the head of the peloton in numbers as the intensity continues to ratchet upwards on the run-in to the finish.
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The race crosses the finish circuit for the first time with 12km remaining and tackles three laps of a 4km finishing circuit. 1:12 is the current gap to Kaczmarek and Planet.
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The break's lead drops below one minute for the first time. The sprinters' teams have this situation resolutely under control.
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Remi Cavagna sets the tempo for Deceuninck-QuickStep in the peloton, now 37 seconds behind the two leaders.
19km remaining from 136km
Kaczmarek wins the final "most active rider" sprint, which guarantees him a day in the blue jersey. Planet, on the other hand, will wear the mountains jersey tomorrow. 24 seconds the gap to the bunch.
17km remaining from 136km
The peloton is swooping in ever more closely on the two escapees. 17 seconds the gap.
A crash in the peloton sees two Cofidis riders come down heavily.
15km remaining from 136km
Meanwhile, Planet and Kaczmarek's adventure at the front comes to an end. They sit up and shake hands as the peloton makes the juncture not long before the entry to the finishing circuit.
13km remaining from 136km
Deceuninck-QuickStep and Bora-Hansgrohe are at the front in numbers as the race hits the finishing circuit. Mark Cavendish is well positioned towards the head of affairs for Dimension Data.
12km remaining from 136km
Bora-Hansgrohe lead the peloton across the finish line for the first time. Three laps of 4km remain.
Filippo Fortin and Luis Ángel Mate were the two Cofidis riders who crashed, and it is not clear if either man will be able to continue in the race.
11km remaining from 136km
Team Ineos move to the front en masse on the first lap of the finishing circuit. The British squad's line-up this week includes Pavel Sivakov, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ben Swift.
9km remaining from 136km
Vasil Kiryienka sets the tempo for Ineos on the head of the peloton. So far on the finishing circuit, the speed has been too high for any would-be escapees to even try to forge clear.
8km remaining from 136km
Bora-Hansgrohe move up with two laps remaining.
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Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Groupama-FDJ are all represented in numbers towards the head of the peloton on this penultimate lap of the finishing circuit.
5km remaining from 136km
EF Education First move up on behalf of Sacha Modolo, but Bora-Hansgrohe continue to control affairs at the front of the bunch.
4km remaining from 136km
The peloton takes the bell with 4km remaining. There is a wide cast of sprinters on this Tour de Pologne and almost all of them are being supported in numbers by their teams. This could be a rather chaotic sprint finale.
A Dimension Data crashes on the sharp left-hand corner at the start of the final lap...
2km remaining from 136km
It looked like Mark Cavendish, but we await confirmation. Meanwhile, Bob Jungels takes up the reins for Deceuninck-QuickStep and strings out the peloton.
1km remaining from 136km
Still Jungels leads and lines out the peloton, with delegations from Jumbo-Visma and Ineos behind him.
1km remaining from 136km
Jungels swings over at the flamme rouge and Jumbo-Visma take over for Van Poppel.
Ben Swift launches the sprint from distance...
Fernando Gaviria comes past him, but Pascal Ackermann is with him...
Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 1 of the Tour de Pologne.
Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) took second ahead of Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep).
Mark Cavendish was the last rider across the line after coming down in that crash with a little under 4km to go.
1 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 2:57:58
2 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep
4 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
5 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
6 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
7 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First
8 Pawel Franczak (Pol) Poland
9 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
10 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Tour de Pologne this afternoon. We'll be back with more tomorrow, but in the meantime you can find a full report, results and pictures from the opening stage here.
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