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Higuita seizes victory on mammoth stage 3 of Tour de Pologne

Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) timed his effort perfectly on the steep 1.8km uphill finish above Przemyśl to win on his 25th birthday at the Tour de Pologne and also take the race lead.

Ineos Grenadiers lead the reduced peloton up the climb but when Richard Carapaz faded, Higuita jumped past Sebastian Berwick (Israel-Premier Tech) and Quentin Pacher (Groupama-FDJ) and sprinted through the final turns.

He sprinted even harder when the finish line appeared to hold off a late surge from Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).

Thanks to his stage victory and time bonuses, Higuita pulled on the leader’s yellow jersey. He has a gap of four seconds on Bilbao, with Hermans third at six seconds.

Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) is fourth overall at 10 seconds thanks to his placings in the opening two stages.

“This is a very beautiful win for me. It’s a great birthday present for me,” Higuita said.

“The last climb was super hard and super steep. I train on climbs like this in Colombia, going full gas; so when I started the climb, I left a little power for the final 200 metres so that I could keep going. I waited and waited and then sprinted to the line. After the line I was completely empty.”

How it unfolded

Stage 3 from Kraśnik to Przemyśl, just 15km from the border with Ukraine, was the longest of this year's race at 237.9km, with a series of three steep climbs after 200km and a final climb to the finish.

Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Matthias Brandle (Israel-Premier Tech), Piotr Brożyna (Poland) and Marcin Budzinski (Poland) jumped away to bravely form the early break of the day, with Michel Hessmann (Jumbo-Visma) going across to them.

The peloton let them quickly open a near-eight-minute gap but their lead then gradually fell after the 30km point as several WorldTour teams lead the chase.

After a 100km the gap was down to three minutes but then the peloton eased, happy to play cat and mouse with the five attackers and keep them under control before the selective finish.

With 70km to go, as the gap fell to around 1:30, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) tried to go across to the attack, perhaps hoping it could be a launch pad to a solo victory. The Belgian reduced the gap to 45 seconds but after an intense 10km effort he realised he would not make it across and wisely eased up. UAE Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Ineos Grenadiers all placed riders on the front of the peloton to help the chase.

When the climbs began with 30km to go, Hessmann decided it was time to shake out the breakaway, with only Theuns able to stay with him.

Hessmann was first to the summit of the Sólca climb and the second Kalwaria Pacławska climb. He bravely battled on despite the peloton closing to gap and managed to hold on over the top of the Gruszowa climb to secure the lead in the mountain classification. He had spent 215km off the front.

The three climbs and the speed saw the sprinters distanced, with just 50 riders left in the peloton on the descent towards Przemyśl.

UAE Team Emirates, Ineos Grenadiers and Groupama-FDJ lead the peloton to the foot of the final climb, knowing that positioning would be vital on the steep 1.8km climb out of the centre of town.

Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) surprisingly attacked alone on the lower slopes but he was never going to win alone and Ineos dragged the peloton up to him with 800 metres to go. Ben Tulett and Jhonatan Narváez did the work for Carapaz and the Olympic road race champion seemed ready to jump away to victory.

However, as the road climbed at 13% and 22-year-old Australian Sebastian Berwick (Israel-Premier Tech) lead the line, Carapaz lost Narváez’s wheel and faded. That inspired Pacher but also Higuita, who was waiting in the wheels. When he jumped to the front and towards the line, nobody was able to catch him.

It was the Colombian national champion’s fifth win of 2022 and the perfect birthday present.

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Stephen Farrand
Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.

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