The Tour of Poland’s third bunch sprint in a row was taken by Yauheni Hutarovitch (Francaise des Jeux) in by a margin of less than half a wheel after riders touched speeds of nearly 80kmh on the ultra-fast downhill straight to the finish.
“I’ve never done a downhill sprint that fast or that steep,” Allan Davis (Astana) said after donning the yellow jersey of race leader for a second day.
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“We came over the top with about a kilometre to go and on the downhill it was really hectic, there were riders everywhere, you couldn’t follow anybody.”
“I haven’t looked yet to check but that was really quick.”
Davis finally made third, behind Hutarovich and Argentina’s Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank), both of whom thought they had taken the day’s win.
Haedo raised his arm in victory, but it was Hutarovich who had crossed the line first, albeit by a margin so small several TV replays were needed before the FDJ rider’s win was confirmed.
The 26-year-old from Belarus has sprint wins in smaller stage races like the Tour of the Med., the Tour of West Flanders and the Tour of Burgos by the cartload but taking a victory in front of the huge crowds at the finish in Katowice was his first ever breakthrough into the ProTour.
“That was some sprint, really fast, but I seem to do better in ones like that which are chaotic and a bit dangerous.” Hutarovich said.
“I’ve taken two national road-race titles but this was my first in a ProTour so it’s equally important,”
At a whopping 122 kilometres, stage three of the Tour of Poland was so short if you blinked you’d have missed it.
But when the riders hit the day’s main feature – yet another city centre circuit complete with vast crowds, tram lines, dodgy corners and bulging crash barriers – there was no lack of action.
Possibly the most intriguing move came when Ian Stannard and Matt Hayman launched a joint move in a two-up attack for Sky.
It didn’t work out, but even so it was followed by a three man break led by Cervélo’s Dominique Rollin and a flurry of other short-lived digs.
Even German fastman André Greipel (HTC-Columbia), a rider who very rarely likes to poke his head out of the peloton prior to a bunch sprint, got into the spirit of things and briefly went clear.
Finally, though, Astana, Vancansoleil and Skil-Shimano joined forces to ensure the sprinters had the last word for a third day running. On Wednesday, despite some hills mid-stage, they may well do again.
Tour of Poland 2010, stage three: Sosnowiec to Katowice, 122.1km
1. Yauheni Hutarovitch (Blr) Francaise des Jeux in 2-45-04
2. Lucas Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
3. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana
4. Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano
5. Kenny De Haes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto all same time
57. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky
65. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky
85. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky all same time
Overall classification after stage three
1. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana in 12-53-14
2. Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia at 3 secs
3. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at 4 secs
4. Yauheni Hutarovitch (Blr) Francaise des Jeux at 4 secs
5. Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 8 secs
42. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky at 14 secs
48. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky at 14 secs
124. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Team Sky at 14 secs