Van Poppel wins Polish sprint in style

02 Aug 2017

Van Poppel wins Polish sprint in style

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Danny van Poppel pulled off a superb sprinting performance to claim victory on stage five at the Tour of Poland.

Persistence paid off for the Dutchman, who dug deep over the tough second-category Wany climb to put himself into a winning position in Rzeszow.
 
Van Poppel latched onto a committed lead-out from Team Sky team-mates Wout Poels, Michal Golas and Lukasz Wisniowski on wet roads.
 
After three podium finishes in the opening three sprint opportunities it was fourth time lucky for Van Poppel, who held off Luka Mezgec (Orica-Scott) and race leader Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
 
GC hope Poels kept himself out of trouble and, after pulling off from his key lead-out role, was able to avoid a big crash on the final corner. That elevated the Dutchman to seventh overall, now 33 seconds back on Sagan after the Slovakian picked up more bonus seconds.
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Back on the bus, a delighted Van Poppel heaped praise on his team-mates to TeamSky.com after their fine leadout work.

He said: "That was the key point - the leadout. It was a really hard stage with a climb on the finishing circuit and I felt really good today so I was there, and I think the whole team was still there with me. The guys did a great job.

"Obviously we’ve already done some leadouts so I trust the guys 100%. We took the lead early and even Wout did a great pull. Everyone was really impressive. Michal and Lukasz did a great job and all I had to do was my own sprint. That was enough."

Asked if he'd found his string of podium performances frustrating this week, he was quick to interject: "No, not really. I’ve been happy that I’ve felt good again because I’ve had some injuries all season. I was happy to be back, but today I felt really good, so I was hoping to win. The key point was the leadout though - I’m really thankful to the guys."

Ahead of the race Van Poppel joined a large part of the team at a training camp in Livingo, and he believes it's helped him get back to his best: "I was with the team in Livingo and I felt really good there. I knew I was back to my level and I’m happy that I showed that here."

Van Poppel has been going head-to-head with his brother, Boy Van Poppel (Trek-Segafredo), in the sprints in Poland - a rare experience for the pair.

He added: “It’s actually the first time we’ve ever sprinted against each other, because usually he leads out John Degenkolb or Giacomo Nizzolo. But here he can do his own sprint, so it’s funny to see him.

"I thought yesterday was the last sprint, but the last two stages are definitely really hard, so it’s full focus on the GC with Wout now. I’m looking forward to helping the guys now because they helped me so well all week."
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 Team Sky were able to sit back in the pack for much of the day, with heavy rain starting to fall ahead of the peloton’s first arrival at the finish in Rzeszow. Hitting the front to help position themselves, Van Poppel put in a superb effort to hang in after Ian Boswell and Salvatore Puccio led the line. 
 
On the finishing circuit Puccio also helped to chase down Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), the final rider of the day’s five-man break to be caught with 3km to go.

Sport Director Gabriel Rasch was a happy man after the finish. "It was his turn," exclaimed the Norwegian about a victorious Van Poppel.

"It was really good to see. The guys kept cool heads today. There were a lot of teams working during the stage so we were able to sit back. Then they did a perfect leadout. Even Wout did part of the leadout and it worked out perfectly.

"Wout was just behind the big crash but he managed to steer around it and finish with no problems."

Attention now turns to the GC battle, with Poels hoping to come to the fore on the climbs that will decide the race.

Rasch added: "We have two really hard days now and we've certainly not given up on the GC. We'll try tomorrow and the day after. Wout is feeling good, and perhaps the next two days are better suited to him than what we saw on stage three."

Stage five result:

1. Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) 2:59:44
2. Luka Mezgec (Orica-Scott) s.t.
3. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
4. Roberto Ferrari (UAE-Fly Emirates)
5. Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo)

Overall standings:

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 18:41:27
2. Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing) +14"
3. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) +20"
4. Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) 24"
5. Odd Christian Eiking (FDJ) +31"
7. Wout Poels (Team Sky) +33"

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