Belgian Bart De Clerq times his late attack to perfection to win the stage and top the general classification with two stages remaining

Bart De Clercq (Lotto-Soudal) took a solo victory on stage five of the 2015 Tour of Poland on Thursday to take the overall race lead.

The Belgian claimed the win at the end of the longest stage of the race ahead of Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) in second and Sebastien Reichenbach (IAM Cycling) in third. It ends a four-year drought for De Clercq, whose last victory was stage seven of the 2011 Giro d’Italia.

De Clerq tops the general classification by four seconds ahead of Ulissi and Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) in third at six seconds.

Overnight leader Kamil Zieliński (Poland) was dropped relatively early on during the race’s longest stage.

After the day’s escape group was caught with 6okm to go, the peloton got smaller and smaller as it traversed the lumpy terrain and a flurry of attacks and counter-attacks were made.

Fabio Aru (Astana) led the pace-making in the final 15km, with the result that a lot of riders were shelled out the back of the bunch. Formolo  then attacked with 13km to go, followed by Aru.

Sergio Henao (Sky) caught and passed them just as they reached the summit of day’s final categorised climb, but Formolo attacked again on the descent. After a short spell out front alone, he was joined by De Clercq, Aru, Henao, Nieve and a small group of other riders.

De Clerq chose his moment to attack before the final rise to the line, soloing into the final kilometre to take the victory and put some significant time into his rivals.

The only British rider in the race – Alex Dowsett (Movistar) – reportedly withdrew from the race after suffering from a fever.

Friday’s penultimate stage six is a tough one. The route from Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa to Bukowina Tatrzańskauses uses four laps of a 38.4km circuit that includes two categorised climbs, and there’s barely a flat stretch of road throughout its 174km. The race concludes on Saturday with a 25km time trial.

Results

Tour of Poland 2015, stage five: Nowy Sącz to Zakopane, 223km
1. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 3 secs
3. Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling at same time
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 7 secs
5. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
8. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r
9. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha all same time

Overall classification after stage five
1. Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 4 secs
3. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin at 6 secs
4. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing at 9 secs
5. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 9 secs
6. Sebastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling at 9 secs
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana at 15 secs
8. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at 16 secs
9. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r at 17 secs
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha at 17 secs