Garmin-Transition’s Dan Martin has moved into the overall lead of the Tour of Poland thanks to a combination of great teamwork and a devastating final attack on the race’s only summit finish.
Martin charged away about three kilometres from the finish, just after a steep cobbled section had strung out the bunch and left his rivals ripe for the attacking.
The 23-year-old made his move after US team-mate Peter Stetina had upped the pace for the previous kilometre. When Stetina looked back, Martin knew it was time to make his move – and nobody could follow him.
For the rest of the densely wooded climb deep in southern Poland, very similar to some of the Ardennes ascents used in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Garmin-Transition rider kept up an impressively steady high pace.
At one point it looked from the tv images as if the chase group of about half a dozen riders might catch him, but it was an optical ilusion. Martin crossed the line 20 seconds clear of closest chaser Grega Bole (Lampre), the first rider of a bunch that shattered completely following the Irishman’s lone charge and which crossed the line in dribs and drabs.
Martin revealed later that his first ProTour stage win and lead had come after he and the team had checked out the climb this morning, prior to the short 149 kilometre run from Jastrzebie Zdroj to Ustrón.
“We saw there was a tough cobbled section about half-way up, and we knew that would do some real damage in the bunch,” Martin said afterwards.
“Peter [Stetina] took me through the bunch and up to the front, then drove really hard before I went myself.”
“I was feeling pretty confident, I thought if anybody wanted to follow they’d have a fairly hard time of it.”
“As soon as I got the gap I knew I could win the stage if my legs didn’t give out.”
Martin says he knew that he had the win with about 500 metres to go, but he kept going to try and open as big a gap overall as possible.
Overall, Martin has a 14 second advantage over Bole, which may not sound much, although last year’s victory in the Tour of Poland was taken by even less with Alessandro Ballan winning by just 10 seconds over Spain’s Dani Moreno.
“Tomorrow’s stage is the key to it all,” Martin added. “It’s much longer than today, but the climbs are shorter.”
“We’d love to win this race and we’ve got a strong team, but there are some pretty tough rivals out there too.”
Martin said he had “stayed zen” during the early part of Thursday’s stage, which had a total of 2,500 metres of climbing and which saw Sky’s Ben Swift off the front until 30 km to go in a promising-looking three-man break.
But Caisse d’Epargne and Polish squad Polska-BGZ pulled the race back together just before the final climb and Martin was poised to make his move.
“I was totally relaxed, I followed wheels and had a lot of confidence in my team-mates, the two Toms [Danielson and Peterson], Christian Meier and Peter Stetina were doing a great job.”
“To win bike races you have to gamble, so I gambled the race would come back together, and It did.”
Tour of Poland 2010, stage five: Jastrzebie Zdroj to Ustron, 149km
1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Transitions in 3-51-13
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 20 secs
3. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo
4. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini at same time
Overall classification after stage five
1. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Transitions in 20-52-11
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre-Farnese Vini at 14 secs
3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team at 21 secs
4. Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Liquigas-Doimo at 26 secs
5. Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Columbia at 28 secs
Daniel Martin wins the stage and takes the overall lead in Poland