Michal Kwiatkowski and defending champion Rafal Majka will go head-to-head in their home nation’s major race, and the birth of competitive new rivalry could about to be witnessed. Over the past few seasons each has established themselves as one of the hottest prospects in cycling – Kwiatkowski has starred in the Ardennes Classics and won the World Championships road race last year, while Majka has won three Tour de France mountain stages in the past two years.
Before their expected dual commences, the sprinters will get a chance for success in three relatively flat stages. Stage four sees the arrival of the mountains, with three peaks summited during the lengthy 220km, but with all of them positioned too far from the finish line to prompt any key attacks.
More decisive GC action should occur the following day, which features eight categorised climbs, as well as an uphill slant to the finish. Stage six provides one last chance for the climbers to gain time, with eight more punchy climbs and another hilltop finish, while a 25km effort against the clock in Krakow provides time-trial specialists with a chance to make up time.
Tour of Poland 2015: Ones to Watch
Michal Kwiatkowski, Etixx-QuickStep
The presence of local star in the world champion’s rainbow jersey should attract plenty of interest in Poland, as Kwiatkowski returns to the race where he made a key breakthrough ride in 2012, finishing second. The four extra days rest he had upon abandoning the Tour on stage 17 may provide him the extra reserves of energy he’ll need to compete for the overall.
Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo
Majka will be hoping for a repeat of last year, where he followed a star turn at the Tour de France with two stage wins and the overall victory at the Tour of Poland. Though he didn’t quite have the same degree of success at this year’s Tour, he did land another stage win, and looks set to have the right balance of form and motivation to defend his title.
Jon Izagirre, Movistar
Movistar bring a large contingent of their strong squad of climbers to the Tour of Poland, with last year’s podium finisher Benat Intxausti and fourth overall at the Giro, Andrey Amador both riding. Their main rider to watch, however, looks set to be Jon Izagirre, who narrowly missed out to Majka last year and Pieter Weening in 2013, finishing second both times.
Sergio Henao, Sky
Colombian Henao was one of Sky’s star performers in the spring, finishing second overall in the Tour of the Basque Country and pulling off top tens at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche-Wallonne. In the absence of the team’s Tour de France stars he’ll assume their GC challenge, although the final time-trial could be his undoing.
Marcel Kittel, Giant-Alpecin
Having missed the Tour after an illness-plagued season, Kittel will be eager to finally get his year back on track with some success at the Tour of Poland. The opening few days will provide opportunities for him to compete in some bunch sprints, though his first priority will be simply to finish each stage.
Tour of Poland 2015: Stages
Stage 1: Sunday, August 2. Warsaw – Warsaw, 122km
Stage 2: Monday, August 3. Częstochowa – Dąbrowa Górnicza, 146km
Stage 3: Tuesday, August 4. Zawiercie – Katowice, 166km
Stage 4: Wednesday, August 5. Jaworzno – Nowy Sącz, 220km
Stage 5: Thursday, August 6. Nowy Sącz – Zakopane, 223km
Stage 6: Friday, August 7. Bukovina Terma Hotel Spa – Bukowina Tatrzańska, 174km
Stage 7: Saturday, August 8. Kraków – Kraków, 25km ITT
Tour of Poland 2015: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale
CCC Sprandi Polkowice
Trek Factory Racing
Tour of Poland 2015: TV schedule
British Eurosport will be showing coverage of the 2015 Tour of Poland.
Sunday Aug 2, 6.30-7.45pm, stage one highlights, British Eurosport
Monday Aug 3, 4.30-6pm, stage two LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Tuesday Aug 4, 4.30-6pm, stage three LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Wednesday Aug 5, 4.30-6pm, stage four LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Thursday Aug 6, 4.30-6pm, stage five LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Friday Aug 7, 4.30-6pm, stage six LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Saturday Aug 8, 4.30-6pm, stage seven LIVE, British Eurosport 2
Tour of Poland: Recent winners
2014 Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo)
2013 Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge)
2012 Moreno Moser (Italy)
2011 Peter Sagan (Slovakia)
2010 Daniel Martin (Ireland)
2009 Alessandro Ballan (Italy)
2008 Jens Voigt (Germany)
2007 Johan Van Summeren (Belgium)
2006 Stefan Schumacher (Germany)
2005 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg)
Tour of Poland: Last year’s top 10 (2014)
1. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
2. Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar +0:08
3. Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar +0:22
4. Christophe Riblon (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale +0:34
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida +1:20
6. Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar +1:21
7. Philip Deignan (Irl) Sky +1:24
8. Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin +1:41
9. Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC +1:42
10. Petr Vakoc (Cze) Omega Pharma-QuickStep +1:49
Video: Tour de France 2015 – the best bits