Stage 3 of the 2019 Tour de Pologne is set to offer another opportunity to the sprinters.
37km remaining from 157km
Hello there. We're up and running on stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne and as we pick up the action, with just under 120km remaining, we have a breakaway of three riders with a lead of four-and-a-half minutes. We should be heading for a bunch sprint in Zabrze later this afternoon.
The three escapees are:
Adrian Kurek (Poland national team)
Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-RusVelo)
Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk)
Here's the stage profile. Look familiar? That's because we did pretty much this exact stage at this exact point last year. In fact, the first three stages of this year's route are basically a re-run of 2018. Anyway, the riders once again started in the Śląski stadium in Chorzów and are heading south towards Zabrze, where they'll do four laps of a 6.2-kilometre finishing circuit.
Bonus points if you can remember what happened here last year... here's our stage report.
Miserable conditions out there. The rain is pouring down now.
100km remaining from 157km
The rain eases off and the gap comes down to 3:30. Bora-Hansgrohe and UAE Team Emirates are doing the work at the head of the peloton, working for Pascal Ackermann and Fernando Gaviria, respectively. They are the top sprinters in the race and finished first and second on the opening stage, before Luka Mezgec toppled them on the downhill run to Katowice yesterday.
Ackermann is still in the yellow jersey as overall leader of the race. Here he was a little earlier.
It took a couple of days, but now the transfer window is in full swing. We told you a few months ago Mikel Landa was off to Bahrain-Merida, and now it's a done deal. Here's the full story.
The other big transfer news of the day is that Cofidis have got their hands on Elia Viviani, a big signing for the French team who have WorldTour aspirations. Here's the story.
With 82km to go, the gap between the peloton and the three breakaway riders remains stable at around 3:15.
The riders will hit the four local laps with around 25km to go. There seems to be little chance of upsetting the sprinters today.
Still Bora doing much of the legwork, and the gap comes down to 2:30.
There's been a crash involving Lotto Soudal's young talent Bjorg Lambrecht, who has abandoned immediately.
We're hearing now that Lambrecht required 'emergency reanimation' at the roadside, and is now being airlifted to hospital. That sounds very worrying indeed.
More on Lambrecht as soon as we get it.
59km remaining from 157km
The breakaway come to the top of the only categorised climb of the day, and it's not much of a climb at all. Planet, already wearing the pink jersey, is first over the line to extend his lead in the mountains classification. There's no contest from Shalunov or Kurek.
The riders are grabbing their musettes as they pass through the feed zone. 25km until we hit the local laps and things start to ramp up.
Having won that intermediate sprint before the KOM, Planet is the virtual leader of the race. He started the day second overall, one second behind Ackermann, but won't be in yellow unless Ackermann and Gaviria fail to finish on the podium later on.
Latest from the race organisers on Lambrecht.
"Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) was forwarded to reanimation team of hospital in Rybnik."
They have since corrected what they said about him being airlifted to hospital, reporting that his condition was such he could not fly and was driven by ambulance. They say he "hit a concrete culvert".
My colleague Alasdair Fotheringham spoke to Lambrecht yesterday, and he was full of optimism for this race, ahead of an important second Grand Tour at the Vuelta a Espana later in the month. Here's what he had to say. For now, we're just hoping for good news from his team.
38km remaining from 157km
It's raining again, and it doesn't look like it's going to dry out at the finish. Just under 40km to go and the break's advantage is down to just over a minute.
31km remaining from 157km
Home rider Maciej Bodnar is still pulling the peloton along, and brings the gap to Planet, Shalunov, and Kurek below the minute-mark.
The three leaders are heading into Zabrze and will soon be crossing the finish line for the first time. A reminder that four laps of the 6.2km finishing circuit await.
They come into town, into the barriers, and into the crowds. The road in the final kilometre is wet and slippy, but it's not raining at the moment.
There's a slight chicane ahead of the flamme rouge, followed just after it by a big left-hand bend. That's going to be treacherous later on, when the peloton are going full gas on the wet roads.
25km remaining from 157km
Planet leads them across the finish line as the bell rings out. They have a lead of 40 seconds over the peloton. Four laps of 6.2km to go.
The circuit takes the riders out onto a big highway, which gently rises before dipping back down through a tight couple of corners into town.
18km remaining from 157km
Planet, Shalunov, and Kurek come back into the final kilometre, and they've seen 12 seconds shaved off their lead. Planet leads them across the line and the peloton have them in sight behind at 28 seconds.
16km remaining from 157km
Bora are still on the front of the peloton as they take the sweeping left-hander that takes them out of town and onto the main road. The pace isn't too high just yet but on the final two laps it will be a different story.
Bora start to step it up a notch and reduce the gap to 14 seconds on the false flat highway. The breakaway trio are really having to fight to dig in now.
12km remaining from 157km
Kurek turns a big gear on the front and shows signs of suffering now as he takes them into the home straight. They cross the line and their lead is down to single figures. 9 seconds with two laps remaining.
Bora are doing all the work here and race leader Ackermann is the big favourite, with Gaviria likely to be the closest challenger. Other candidates include Mezgec, Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Maximilian Walscheid (Team Sunweb), Danny van Poppel (Team Jumbo-Visma), Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team), Sacha Modolo (EF Education First), and Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ).
Interesting development as Bora peel off from the front of the peloton on this third lap. Dimension Data find themselves on the front, but there's a lull, and the three leaders manage to eek out a few seconds. 15 seconds now as they head back into town.
6km remaining from 157km
Planet, mouth agape, head swinging from side to side as he strains under the effort, leads the break into the final kilometre. He does so with such speed that he gaps the other two through that left-hander. Shalunov comes through now and looks more composed as he takes them across the line for the penultimate time. One lap to go. 16 seconds the gap.
5km remaining from 157km
We mentioned the aggression with which Planet had started to attack the course. Well, it's proved his undoing as he slips out on a left-hand bend. The roads have been drying but they're still patchy with surface water. Kurek is in the wheel and doesn't hit the deck but is taken off course. That leaves Shalunkov alone out front.
Heartbreak for Planet, who might just have pulled on the leader's jersey had things gone his way in the expected sprint finish.
Shalunov gets his head down and stamps on the pedals. He's out on the false flat highway and this is really going to hurt. Ineos lead the bunch.
The bunch fans out and splits in two as trains line up on either side of the road, with a gaping gap in the middle. They have Shalunov at five seconds now and the pace is really ramping up.
3km remaining from 157km
Shalunov is caught as QuickStep take it up through Cavagna. All together with just 3km to go.
EF have four riders on Cavagna's wheel. The pace hits 65km/h on the highway.
EF take it up now. Dimension Data are on the left with Cavendish, Bora just behind with Ackermann.
1km remaining from 157km
EF lead off the main road and through the twists into town.
EF burn through their men now as they approach the flamme rouge. Ackermann looks well placed.
1km remaining from 157km
Trek come through into the final kilometre, but Bora look in control once again.
Bora lead it out properly now.
And now Jungels hits the front
Degenkolb launches but now Ackermann responds
But here comes Jakobsen... and he takes it!
Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 3 of the Tour de Pologne
Degenkolb went very early, and Ackermann responded by the barriers on the right, with Van Poppel on his wheel. Jakobsen found himself a couple of places back but darted out late on to the left, hitting the front in the final 25m before raising his arms.
Overhead replays show what was hinted at originally, and that's that Jakobsen raised his arm at Sarreau. The images clearly show him essentially pushing the Frenchman to one side, opening the gap through which he sprinted clear. He may be in trouble here.
Provisional top 10
1 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:29:41
2 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00
3 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00
4 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 0:00
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 0:00
6 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb 0:00
7 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 0:00
8 Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:00
9 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk 0:00
10 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:00
General classification after stage 3
1 Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 10:00:01
2 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:06
3 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:08
4 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott 0:10
5 Pawel Franczak (Pol) Poland 0:12
6 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:16
7 Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:18
8 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 0:19
9 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb 0:20
10 Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:20
For the time being, the race jury have taken no action against Jakobsen, but that may change.
Here's our report page
I'd be amazed if Jakobsen keeps this. It was almost comical in the way he gently nudged Sarreau aside and sprinted into the gap. But you can't take your hands off the bars and you can't push another rider. The big question is whether the commissaires are aware and have the footage.
Hearing now that Jakobsen has been relegated. That would make Ackermann the winner.
The result pales into insignificance as we are deeply sorry to have to report the terrible, terrible news that Bjorg Lambrecht has died.
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