Dylan Teuns has the making of a star
What a fortnight it’s been for Dylan Teuns (BMC Racing). Rewind back to the weekend before last and the Belgian was still awaiting his first victory as a pro. Now, he’s been crowned the overall winner of the Tour of Poland, Tour de Wallonie, and picked up three stage wins along the way to boot.
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He had shown flashes of talent prior to these results, posting some high placings at the 2014 Tour of Britain as a stagiaire and finishing third at La Fléche Wallone earlier this year, but was a name not known to many beyond dedicated cycling fans.
His status will have been considerably enhanced now that he has won a WorldTour race, however.
But his performances in the final two stages to seal overall victory suggest his talents are not limited to just brief, explosive efforts, but that he can also hold his own on parcours with longer and more relentless climbing. He’ll be one to look out for in Grand Tours next season.
Peter Sagan back and the centre of attention
You can’t keep Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) out of the headlines for long. There may have been a big Sagan-sized hole during July when the Slovak was kicked off the Tour for what was interpreted as dangerous sprinting, but we didn’t have to wait long to see him back in action, as he stormed to victory on the opening day’s sprint at the Tour of Poland.
And the world champion wasn’t done yet. Bonus seconds gained in sprint finishes meant he ended four of the first five stages as overall leader, making him an even more conspicuous presence than usual in the leader’s bright yellow jersey.
Even after he lost it in the hills of Thursday’s stage, Sagan remained heavily in the spotlight during today’s final stage, spending a large portion of the day at the front of the race, even when battling dramatically over super-steep gradients.
Thankfully we won’t have to wait to see Sagan back in action again – he’s down to ride the BinckBank Tour (formerly known as the Eneco Tour) next week.
Vuelta contenders show form
With the Vuelta a España just two weeks away, the Tour of Poland provided a revealing glimpse of the form of the riders hoping to challenge for the overall honours.
The signs were good for Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) who, despite failing to win the overall in his home race, climbed very impressively to finish second overall.
Similarly, Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) managed to follow all the major moves to finish fifth overall, a sign that he may be the most on-form of Orica-Scott’s triple-headed Vuelta GC threat, also including his brother Simon and Esteban Chaves.
Less certain is the form of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) who, despite a solid start to the race, could not match the pace of the favourites during Friday’s final stage and ultimately only managed a mediocre ninth overall.
He, along with Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) – who were eleventh and twelfth respectively – have a little more work to reach top shape come the Vuelta.
Team Sky demonstrate considerable strength in depth
Considering that Team Sky concentrate all their best resources towards winning the Tour de France, it’s testament to just how strong their entire squad is that they can still star with a line-up that features none of the riders that helped Froome win that title last month.
First Danny Van Poppel proved himself the most consistent sprinter in the race, registering two seconds and a third before finally winning stage five.
Then, come the hilly terrain, Wout Poels proved he had overcome the lack of form that saw him passed over for selection at the Tour, making the podium and sprinting to victory in Friday’s final stage.
With he and Diego Rosa riding so well, Froome will be almost as well-looked after as he was at the Tour, albeit with a completely different cast of domestiques.
Was the route a success?
This year’s Tour of Poland was unusual in that it included neither a definitive stage with a mountain top finish, nor a time-trial.
Those are the stages that usually determine the shape of the GC, and in their absence only very small time gaps separated the top – just thirteen seconds between first and fifth.
The route certainly worked in terms of maintaining suspense, with multiple riders still in contention of winning the overall as late as the final climb on the final stage.
But this lack of significant time gaps was a product of a course that was not particularly selective, with the ordering of the GC ultimately being determined by small gaps on uphill sprints and bonus seconds.
There were attacks, but, without the terrain to facilitate their efforts, the stronger riders were not able to gain any advantage.
It was an interesting experiment, but perhaps the organisers need a slight rethink ahead of next year’s edition to strike the perfect balance between tension and selective racing.