Nikias Arndt wins Tour of Poland stage five in crash-marred finale
A series of crashes disrupted the run-in to the line as Almeida retained the race lead
Nikias Arndt pipped Matej Mohorič to the line to win stage five of the 2021 Tour of Poland.
The uphill sprint finish was contested after three crashes inside the final 2km, race leader João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) unaffected and taking his yellow jersey into the weekend.
Arndt looked to have been swamped inside the final few hundred metres, yet squeezed around the left-hand side in the final 50m to just edge out Mohorič on the line and take his first victory since the 2019 Vuelta a España.
Stefano Oldani (Lotto-Soudal) took third, followed by Almeida, with UAE Team Emirates' Diego Ulissi rounding out the top five.
Mohorič again reduced Almeida's lead, cutting it to two seconds with the bonus seconds his runner-up placing afforded him, Ulissi a further 12 seconds adrift.
Tomorrow's penultimate stage six time trial will be a chance for Almeida to give himself some breathing room over the 19.1km course before Sunday's final and flat stage seven.
How it happened
Movistar's American Matteo Jorgensen was one of six riders to jump from the gun on stage five, alongside Astana's Manuele Boaro and Kobe Goossens (Lotto-Soudal), before being quickly reeled, a counter-attack from Alpecin-Fenix's Jonas Rickaert soon following.
This one had more legs, literally and figuratively, as five more riders made their way up the road to join him and this sextet formed the day's break: Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Premier Tech), Daniel Arroyave (EF Education-Nippo), Robert Power (Qhubeka-NextHash), Emīls Liepinš (Trek-Segafredo) and Łukasz Owsian, representing the Polish national team.
Soon, they were on the first classified climb of the day, Liepenš taking maximum points, before a lumpy descent down to the next KOM, the Trek-Segafredo rider again taking 10 points to catapult him into the lead in the king of the mountains competition.
Arroyave then won the intermediate sprint ahead of Rickaert and Owsian, as the Przełęcz Przegibek loomed ahead, the third toughest climb in the race.
Ineos were pulling in the peloton before a counter-attack from Lotto-Soudal, Goossens going again, soon followed by Qhubeka-NextHash's Sean Bennett.
Rickaert wasn't hanging around for the race to come back together, as he broke off from the break, Owsian following, the Pole the highest-placed rider on GC, nine minutes down.
Owsian took the KOM ahead of Rickaert, putting himself back into the mountains jersey after Liepenš' brief tenure.
Behind, Bennett's fellow American Larry Warbasse got himself up the road again a day after presiding over wedding proceedings along with Tomasz Marczynski, this trio soon joining Rickaert at the front of the race to form a quartet who held a 30-second advantage as it neared 20km to go.
The peloton were letting them dangle out front, for the time being at least, the gap going out slightly over the next few kilometres.
With 13km to go, it had crept back down to half a minute, 10 more seconds lopped off under the 10km banner, halved to 10 seconds after two further kilometres.
The catch was imminent with 5km to go as Rickaert took a flyer, looking strong, the rest of the escapees swept up by the bunch.
2km later and Rickaert was caught, Ineos taking over, the speed at 70km/h now, pushing up to the mid-80s on the slight downhill.
A crash inside the final two kilometres, thankfully just before some road furniture, disrupted the procession to the finish, riders starting to wind up.
Tao Geoghegan Hart led under the flamme rouge, taking the pace up a notch, before a Bora-Hansgrohe rider crashed on the right-hand side of the road, that fall seeming to cause a ripple effect and more riders coming down on the other side of the road.
Almeida, Michał Kwiatkowski and Matej Mohorič were still upright, though, as the sprint for the line unfurled, Mohorič coming close but pipped by DSM's Nikias Arndt who had snuck around the side at the last minute, as Almeida retained the race lead.
Tour of Poland 2021, stage five: Chochołów to Bielsko-Biała (172.8km)
1. Nikias Arndt (Ger) DSM, in 4-02-20
2. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-Victorious, at same time
3. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto-Soudal
4. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert
7. David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
8. Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
9. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r Citroën
10. Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 22-54-44
2. Matej Mohorič (Slo) Bahrain-Victorious, at two seconds
3. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 14s
4. Michał Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers, at 21s
5. Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 32s
6. Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty- Gobert, at 34s
7. Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 37s
8. Einer Rubio (Col) Movistar
9. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, both at same time
10. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, at 47s
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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