The Tour of Poland’s overall contenders began to show their hands on Wednesday after a tough finishing circuit in the frontier city of Cieszyn saw Italian sprinter Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre) take both the stage win and the overall lead.
Lorenzetto surged out of the front group of 55 with about 200 metres to go, with Lampre team-mate Grega Bole trailing him all the way to the finish at the top of a twisting cobbled climb to make it a one-two for the veteran Italian squad.
The 2008 World Champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC) was third across the line in a peloton squeezed rather than shattered apart by some tricky mid-race climbs and a short, draggy ascent in the final city centre circuit.
The 29-year-old Lorenzetto, normally part of Alessandro Petacchi’s support team in the major Tours but here given a chance to shine on his own account, was the first to admit he will almost certainly lose his leader’s jersey on tomorrow’s uphill finish.
However, the presence of Ballan, last year’s winner of Poland, in the thick of the action was the first sign in the race so far of a potential overall contender cranking into action.
Of the 55 in the front group who best poised to go for the overall, there are plenty of other names to follow on Thursday’s tricky, rather than tough, 149 kilometre stage, which tackles one unchallenging 10 kilometre climb three times before the final ascent to the spa resort of Ustrón.
On paper the stage should see riders like Ballan, Sky’s Pete Kennaugh, Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions) or HTC-Columbia’s Michael Albasini coming to the fore. All of them are at 17 seconds or less on Lorenzetto overall and with just three stages left to go, whoever gets an early lead is likely to take it all the way to the finish in Krakow on Saturday.
Tour of Poland 2010, stage four: Tychy – Cieszyn
1. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre 4-07-36
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre
3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC
4. Simon Geschke (Ger)
5. Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoliel
6. Michael Albasini (Sui) HTC Columbia
7. Mathew Haymen (Aus) Team Sky
8. Martin Pedersen (Den) Footon Servetto
9. Pablo Lastras (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne
10. Marek Rutkiewicz (Pol) Poland at same time
1. Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre 17-00-51
2. Grega Bole (Slo) Lampre at 7 secs
3. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC 8 secs
4. Simon Geschke (Ger) 10 secs
5. Kenny De Haes (Bel) 14 secs
6. Pablo Lastras (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne 15 secs
7. Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoliel 15 secs
8. Mathew Haymen (Aus) Team Sky 15 secs
9. Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram 15 secs
10. Michael Albasini (Sui) HTC Columbia 15 secs